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Even though many over the counter and perscription medicines state that they should not be taken while alcohol is being consumed, most people do not understand the real impact on the body of this combination. Although the effects of the two can vary depending on how much alcohol you drink and which medicine you are taking, here is what you need to know about how alcohol affects you and the medicines you take.

Any type of alcohol is a chemical that will act like a drug in the body, affecting important organs like the brain, nervous system, stomach, digestive system, liver and more. In children, alcohol interferes with the development of the nervous system even before birth. Today it is a well known fact that alcohol can severely damage an unborn child causing Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

There are four factors that determine the effects of alcohol. These include how much you drink, how much you weigh, how much food you have eaten and your drinking habits. Even though alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, at low blood levels you will feel stimulated and less inhibited because it acts much like depressants such as sedative drugs. Even the most moderate amounts of alcohol affect the brain and irritate the lining of the esophagus and stomach. This can cause gastritis that can lead to gastrointestinal bleeding. Excessive use of alcohol can lead to serious complications of the liver such as cirrhosis and alcoholic hepatitis.

In most cases over the counter and perscription medicines can give you relief and stay healthier if taken correctly. But when mixed with alcohol they can interact harmfully. These problems can be minor to very severe and even fatal. Even the simple combination of a moderate amount of alcohol and a recommended dose of medicine can cause a bad effect. Over the counter pain relievers such as aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, ketoprofen and naproxen sodium should not be taken without consulting a physician if you generally consume 3 or more alcohol containing drinks per day. The alcohol interacts with the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in some cases to cause a serious stomach ulceration and bleeding. Chronic alcohol abuse and excessive acetaminophen use has been associated with liver complications. Antihistamines, any narcotic pain medicines and any anti-depressants mixed with alcohol produce a greater sedative effect, drowsiness and confusion. Oral antidiabetics mixed with alcohol produce an altered control of blood sugar, most often hypoglycemia, facial flushing and headaches. Anti-infectives mixed with alcohol produce facial flushing, headache, nausea, vomiting and abdominal distress. Antiarthricts and alcohol mixed can produce stomach and intestinal bleeding, as well as, bleeding ulcers. Any time you have questions about medicines and alcohol you should talk with your doctor or health care professional. Even when your medicine is an over the counter one mixing it with certain levels of alcohol can be deadly.