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To Sip or Not to Sip: Alcohol and MS

By Daryl H. Bryant (359 words)
Posted in Living with MS on June 4, 2019

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To Sip or Not to Sip: Alcohol and MS

Being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis means making important diet and lifestyle changes. But does that mean you should avoid alcohol altogether?

The Science Isn’t Settled

As the old saying goes, “You are what you eat.” This applies to what you drink, too. Research has shown that people with MS fare better when they avoid certain foods. And it’s well known that moderate amounts of alcohol can boost heart health.

However, the verdict is still out when it comes to alcohol and MS. Some people claim they are better able to manage symptoms with a glass or two of wine.  However, alcohol can also affect cognitive abilities, balance, and sleep - all of which can be affected by MS. Research shows that moderate consumption may help symptoms in some cases - such as a relapse - but may not benefit everyone.

Alcohol and Prescriptions Don’t Mix

Before having that glass of wine, it’s important to consider what prescriptions you are taking. Certain medications should never be taken with alcohol, and others come with risks that can be exacerbated by alcohol consumption. Be sure to read medication labels and instructions carefully, and speak to your doctor or pharmacist about foods (or drinks) you should avoid.

Too Much Alcohol is Never Okay

Drinking too much or too often can make symptoms worse, or cause a flare. Regardless of your personal opinion or the latest research findings, you should never use alcohol as a form of self-medication. If you feel you need alcohol to manage MS symptoms or to get through the day, seek medical help.

The choice to drink or avoid alcohol is a personal decision that should be made as a part of your overall treatment plan. If you wish to consume alcohol, you should discuss any concerns and potential drug interactions with your medical professional. And, of course, if alcohol has any negative effect on your mental or physical health, you should avoid it altogether.

Want to celebrate without causing a flare up? Check out our tips for managing MS while celebrating a night out with friends, and our suggestions for healthy holiday celebrations.

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