The Effects of Drinking Alcohol When Sick

For our entire lives, we’ve been told to hydrate and get lots of sleep when we feel like we’re getting sick. As we grew up and drinking became a regular aspect of weekend activities, the running joke that alcohol “kills germs” and is therefore safe to drink when sick came about. 

On the contrary, drinking alcohol while your body is fighting off sickness can have some seriously negative effects that are more than likely to kill the buzz.

 

Alcohol Can Make You Even More Dehydrated

 

If you’ve ever wondered whether there was any truth behind the term “breaking the seal” as it relates to drinking, it’s not just a myth. Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it causes your body to remove water and nutrients from your blood. For reference, the alcohol in an average glass of wine or beer can cause your body to produce a little under half a cup of pee.

 

The type of alcohol you drink plays a huge role in how dehydrating it is for your body. Drinks like beer and mixed drinks have higher concentrations of water, while spirits and wine have lower concentrations of water, making them more dehydrating. When you get dehydrated from alcohol, various parts of your body are affected in different ways:

 

  •     Brain. Cognitive functions like decision making and responding to your environment can be decreased by dehydration brought on by drinking.
  •     Skin. When your body is dehydrated by alcohol, your body can change its hormone levels, causing your skin to produce acne.
  •     Muscles. Your muscles can get stiff or cramped when dehydrated.
  •     Liver. Alcohol dehydration can cause fat and proteins to build up in your liver, which can eventually lead to more serious issues like liver disease.

 

While experiencing some level of dehydration is inevitable when consuming alcohol, there are things you can do to help reduce the effects:

 

  •     Drink lots of water. The best way to counter the dehydrating effects of alcohol is by rotating between alcohol and water while you’re drinking.
  •     Don’t drink on an empty stomach. Eating before consuming alcohol helps keep the alcohol from being absorbed into your bloodstream too quickly, which can help reduce the impact of dehydration from alcohol.
  •     Get some rest. Lack of adequate sleep can exacerbate symptoms brought on by drinking, like headaches and irritability. Getting a good night’s sleep allows your body to recover and can help to alleviate these symptoms.

 

Booze Works Against Your Immune System

 

It’s a known fact that alcohol consumption can put your health at risk and leave you more susceptible to sickness and disease, but why exactly is that? Here are a few ways that drinking lowers your immune system:

 

It damages your immune cells. Your gut microbiome houses trillions of microorganisms that are crucial to your health in many ways, including supporting your immune system. Alcohol consumption can damage the microorganisms in your body, inhibiting their ability to do their job of keeping you healthy. Immune cells that normally work to fight off infection are weakened by the introduction of alcohol in your bloodstream, making it easier for you to get sick.

 

Metabolizing alcohol becomes your body’s #1 priority. When you drink alcohol, your body prioritizes breaking it down above all other functions. While proteins and fats can be stored in the body, alcohol cannot be, so your body immediately moves it to your liver to be broken down and eliminated from the body. A healthy liver only can metabolize one alcoholic drink an hour, which is why too much alcohol consumption can cause serious liver problems.

 

It messes with your sleep cycle. Alcohol is known to impair the quality of your sleep, which can further weaken your immune system. The less sleep you get, the weaker your immune system will be, and the less it’ll be able to fight against virus-infected cells in your body. While binge drinking can be extremely damaging to your immune system, even small amounts of alcohol can negatively impact your body’s ability to fight off infection. Staying hydrated can work to decrease the impacts of alcohol on your immune system, so it’s important to replenish your body with electrolytes before, during, and after a night of drinking.

 

It Could Mix Badly With Your Medications

 

Mixing alcohol with medication is no joke, there’s a good reason doctors will tell you to steer clear of the combination. There are over 150 medications that, when mixed with alcohol, will no longer work as intended. This includes all different kinds of medications like pain relievers, mood stabilizers, antibiotics, and sleeping pills.

 Alcohol can cause medications to work more or less effectively than normal, or even not at all. This dangerous combination affects everyone differently depending on several factors, like age and pre-existing health conditions. Many harmful side effects can occur from mixing alcohol and medications, ranging anywhere from headaches to irreversible damage.

 

Side effects include:

 

  •     Nausea and vomiting
  •     Fatigue
  •     Dizziness and loss of coordination
  •     Headaches
  •     Behavioral changes
  •     Internal bleeding
  •     Difficulty breathing
  •     Depression, anxiety, or other mental health problems
  •     Heart damage
  •     Liver failure

 

Medications are meant to work in your body for a specific period, whether it's over a few hours or an entire day. This means that even if you consume alcohol hours after taking medication, you could still experience adverse effects. 

Different types of medication will react differently when mixed with alcohol, some causing worse side effects than others. Any medication known to cause drowsiness is the most dangerous to mix with alcohol, but you should steer clear of alcohol entirely when taking any medications to avoid any complications of mixing the two.

 

Your Drowsiness Could Worsen

 

Already feeling drowsy? You probably shouldn’t be drinking. One of the side effects of being under the weather is fatigue or drowsiness. When your body is weakened by sickness, it leaves you feeling run down and drowsy. 

Basically what’s happening is that your cells are under attack, so your body sends signals to your brain to go to sleep so that your body can focus on healing itself. When you add alcohol into the mix you may experience a short burst of energy but in the long run, you’ll only wind up feeling drowsier.

 

When alcohol enters your bloodstream it immediately affects your central nervous system, which is what leads to becoming forgetful, dizzy, or drowsy after you’ve been drinking. When alcohol comes into contact with neurons, or brain cells, it reduces their ability to fire properly. When neuronal firing is reduced, it results in you feeling more lethargic or sleepy than you normally would.

 

Alcohol affects everyone differently and several aspects could influence how strongly you're impacted by the sleep-inducing effects of alcohol:

 

  •     Alcohol tolerance. People with a lower tolerance for alcohol will experience these effects stronger and at a quicker rate than those with a higher tolerance because alcohol takes less time to enter their bloodstream.
  •     Lack of sleep. If you’re already running on an inadequate amount of sleep, you’re more likely to experience drowsiness after as little as one drink.
  •     What you eat beforehand. Many people tend to go carb-heavy in the meal they eat before drinking, but it’s important to note that carbs also induce drowsiness. Eating a meal that’s high in fiber and nutrients is more likely to help reduce the drowsiness you may experience from drinking.

 

You Could Have Trouble Digesting Nutrients

 

Unlike the food you eat, your body does not have a way to digest alcohol. Alcohol is absorbed directly into the bloodstream so it can be broken down and expelled from the body as quickly as possible. Because your organs are so focused on eliminating the alcohol, beneficial vitamins that your body needs end up being eliminated as waste along with the alcohol. This includes vitamins like A, B12, C, D, E, and folic acid.

 

Alcohol affects nutrient absorption in several ways:

 

  •     Damages stomach cells. Alcohol consumption damages the cells in your stomach, which increases the production of acid and decreases your stomach’s ability to properly absorb nutrients.
  •     Making your liver work overtime. Working to metabolize the alcohol in your body, the liver uses up stored vitamins that your body needs.
  •     The diuretic effects of alcohol cause your body to go into an “elimination” state, where it seeks to rid the body of the alcohol. This causes vitamins and minerals to be viewed by the body as waste and pushed out along with the alcohol.

 

It’s widely known that alcohol is bad for your liver, but what fewer people realize is that alcohol consumption affects all parts of your digestive system. While drinking in moderation is fine for most people, excessive drinking can lead to serious health problems. These are some of the ways alcohol affects different areas of your body as it makes its way through your digestive system:

 

  •     Your throat. Alcohol penetrates through your saliva and can damage the tissues in your mouth and throat. In serious cases, this can even lead to cancer of the mouth or throat.
  •     Your esophagus. Once swallowed, alcohol can damage your esophageal cells, increasing your risk of cancer.
  •     Your stomach. Alcohol can damage the cells in your stomach lining that protect against harmful bacteria and acid, resulting in inflammation.
  •     Your liver. With the responsibility of removing toxins from your body, your liver plays an enormous role in ridding your body of alcohol. The way alcohol is metabolized by your liver can be harmful over time, leading to permanent cell and tissue damage.
  •     Your intestines. Alcohol reaches your intestines through the bloodstream. Those who drink heavily develop an increased risk of bowel and colorectal cancer.

 

The Value of IV Therapy

 

When people don’t feel well, their first instinct is typically to take vitamins or medication. Because oral supplements must be digested and then metabolized into the bloodstream before they start to work, they aren’t the most effective method of providing your body with what it needs. 

Many factors are involved in how well your digestive system can distribute the nutrients from vitamins and medications into your bloodstream, including age, stress, and activity levels.

 

Having gained popularity in recent years as a “hangover cure,” IV therapy is widely recognized as the fastest method of hydrating the body. Unlike medications, IV treatments are administered straight into the bloodstream, bypassing the gastrointestinal tract and absorbing all of the nutrients. There’s no need to wait around for the benefits of IV therapy to kick in, as the vitamins and minerals in a treatment begin working in the blood within minutes.

 

IV treatments contain a cocktail of beneficial vitamins and minerals that your body needs to be replenished and leave you feeling your best. It’s a fast, safe, and efficient way of giving your body exactly what it needs. With so many people who swear by IV therapy treatments and a process that takes under an hour, it’s not hard to see why they’ve gained so much recognition.

 

Which Type of IV Therapy Do You Need?

 

There are several types of IV therapy treatments you can choose from depending on your specific needs.

 

Cold and Flu.

 

Whether you’re suffering from body aches, sore throat, or a runny nose, a cold relief IV treatment can help aid in your recovery so you can start feeling better faster. In this treatment, you’ll find:

 

  •     Normal saline. One of the most common IV fluids, saline is a mixture of water and sodium chloride that replenishes the fluids and electrolytes your body needs. It can also loosen mucus and relieve congestion if you have a cold.
  •     Vitamin C. An antioxidant necessary for the growth, development, and repair of body tissues, Vitamin C is essential to a healthy immune system and can help reduce cold symptoms.
  •     Multivitamins. These are a quick way to replenish vitamins A, B, B1, B6, C, D3, E, and K1, which are essential to fight infections and cold or flu symptoms.
  •     Toradol. This is an anti-inflammatory/pain relief that is commonly used for the short-term treatment of pain. It inhibits your body’s ability to create naturally-occurring substances that cause inflammation which helps to decrease swelling, pain, or fever.
  •     Zofran. A fast-acting agent that blocks the actions of chemicals in your body that cause nausea and vomiting, Zofran is used to treat most forms of nausea caused by the flu.

 

Fatigued/Dehydrated.

 

If you’re feeling especially fatigued or dehydrated, this treatment was created just for you. In this treatment, you’ll find:

 

  •     Normal Saline. This is vital to replenishing essential fluids in your body, which work to reduce fatigue and dehydration.
  •     Vitamin B12. This vitamin plays a leading role in metabolizing fatty and amino acids and assists with the formation of red blood cells.
  •     Taurine. This is an amino acid that regulates the electrical impulses in your brain and slows adrenal release, helping you to de-stress and keep calm.
  •     Caffeine. This helps improve your mood, keeps you vigilant, and lowers mental fatigue.

 

Food Poisoning.

 

Anyone who’s had food poisoning can tell you it’s not a pleasant experience. It’s caused by eating food that is contaminated with viruses or bacteria and includes symptoms like nausea and vomiting. This IV therapy treatment was formulated specifically to help settle your stomach and restore lost nutrients. In this treatment, you’ll find:

 

  •     Normal Saline. Saline is extremely helpful in replenishing fluids lost through vomiting or diarrhea caused by food poisoning.
  •     Zofran. This can be used to stop the toxins released from food poisoning that cause vomiting and diarrhea.
  •     Multivitamins. This powerful combination of vitamins can help to replenish any vitamins lost through vomiting or diarrhea.

 

Migraine.

 

This IV treatment was created for people experiencing migraines and symptoms that can often be associated with migraines, like nausea, weakness, and sensitivity to light and sound. In this treatment, you’ll find:

 

  •     Normal Saline. Found in all of our IV therapy treatments, saline hydrates the body by replenishing necessary fluids.
  •     Toradol. This is used to treat short-term moderate to severe pain brought on by migraines.
  •     Compazine. Used to slow down chemical releases in the brain, compazine allows you to rest more easily and is also used to treat nausea and vomiting.
  •     Benadryl. This blocks histamine in your body and is used to treat nausea, vomiting, and dizziness.

 

Stomach Flu.

 

The stomach flu is an intestinal infection with symptoms that include nausea, vomiting, cramps, fever, and diarrhea. The same medications used in this IV therapy have been prescribed by doctors for the stomach flu for years. In this treatment, you’ll find:

 

  •     Normal Saline. This mixture of water and sodium chloride is used to replenish any fluids lost through symptoms of the stomach flu.
  •     Zofran. This is a fast-acting medication used to treat nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  •     Multivitamins. A vital combination of vitamins to replenish those lost through stomach flu symptoms.
  •     Pepcid. This medication is used to treat gastroesophageal reflux, stomach ulcers, and any condition where too much stomach acid is secreted.