What Happens When You Drink Alcohol While Taking Acyclovir?
When people are prescribed Acyclovir, they’re generally told to avoid alcohol. The most common problem that can occur when a person taking Acyclovir drinks alcohol is an amplification of the dizziness and drowsiness that frequently occur as side effects of the drug. Alcohol consumption can result in a potentially dangerous level of dizziness, which can pose serious safety hazards if the patient drives or operates heavy machinery.
Some people use Acyclovir in the form of an ointment, and with this form of the drug, dizziness is less likely to be a problem, so drinking alcohol will have less of an effect than if the drug is taken orally. If you have taken Acyclovir in the past and not experienced dizziness, you should still be cautious with alcohol consumption, because it can happen even if it has not been a problem before.
Other conditions can contribute to the level of dizziness experienced by patients taking Acyclovir. Heat, tiredness, stress, and hunger tend to worsen dizziness when taking Acyclovir, and alcohol consumption can amplify the effect even more. If you have been exercising, side effects may be more apparent, and side effects are generally more apparent in older adults.
Another concern about mixing Acyclovir with alcohol is interference with the way the drug is metabolized. With alcohol, the concentration of the drug in the body can be increased, making side effects worse. People who drink while taking Acyclovir are more likely to experience side effects such as fainting or changes in vision.
In general, casual “social” drinking, such as a glass of wine with a meal, is not problematic. But how can the average patient know how much alcohol is too much?
How Many Drinks Are OK?
Medical professionals generally define “moderate consumption” of alcoholic drinks as no more than two drinks a day. According to the United States Centers for Disease Control, a “drink” is defined as a beverage containing 14 grams (0.6 ounces) of pure alcohol. Specifically, one “drink” is:
◾12 ounces of beer
◾8 ounces of malt liquor
◾5 ounces of wine
◾1.5 ounces (a “shot”) of 80-proof liquor such as gin, rum, whiskey, or vodka
If you’re taking Acyclovir and consume no more than two drinks per day, you will probably not have serious problems, though to be safe you should not drive or operate machinery when you drink.
Safety, Alcohol, and Acyclovir
It is important to know that even if you believe that you “handle” alcohol well, the experience of drinking alcohol while taking Acyclovir may be different, and it may change from one course of Acyclovir to the next. When other influences (like hunger, tiredness, heat, or stress) are present, the risks of drinking while on Acyclovir are higher.
If you are taking Acyclovir and plan to attend a social function where alcohol is available, the wise course of action is to have someone else drive you, and stick to no more than two drinks as defined above.
If you have herpes, you should be absolutely honest with their physician about how much you drink. It isn’t easy, but you can rest assured that your physician has dealt with the effects of alcohol many times, and doesn’t want to judge you, but does want to keep you safe and healthy.
With Acyclovir, you do not necessarily have to give up alcohol completely, but if you minimize drinking and make arrangements so that you do not have to drive or operate machinery after drinking, you should be safe, and the medication should work as expected. If you have any doubts about your ability to handle alcohol, then it is best to avoid it altogether.
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