What Are the Risks of Acyclovir and Alcohol?

Drinking alcohol with acyclovir can lead to an increase in the severity of side effects.
Article Details
  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 29 June 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Acyclovir and alcohol can be a bad combination in some patients, although generally casual social drinking is not dangerous. The primary concern about drinking while on this medication is that it could increase the severity of side effects, making patients uncomfortable and potentially also making it harder to adhere to the therapy plan. In addition, patients with existing liver problems could be at risk of complications if they drink, because their livers are already burdened and may not be able to take additional the additional work. A medical professional can advise a patient on whether it is safe to use acyclovir and alcohol.

This antiviral medication may be used to treat outbreaks of shingles, genital herpes, and severe chickenpox. Clinical trials indicate that it is safe to drink while taking the drug, as long as people stick to moderate drinking. Alcoholics and people with high alcohol intake may be at higher risk of interactions between the alcohol and their medication. The risk of interactions isn’t severe enough to recommend skipping or delaying a dose if someone has just had a drink.

One concern with acyclovir and alcohol is that it can interfere with drug metabolism. This can increase the concentration of the drug in body and may make some side effects worse. People who drink while on the medication may experience drowsiness, fainting, dizziness, and vision changes. Patients who notice these symptoms may want to avoid drinking to reduce the chance that they get worse.

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Individuals with liver or kidney impairment may have trouble metabolizing the drug, and drinking can add to this. They may require dosage adjustments to take acyclovir safely, especially if they are also on other medications. For them, acyclovir and alcohol may not interact well because they might put too much strain on the liver. Blood tests can determine if the liver or kidneys are compromised by the medication, and may provide more information about whether moderate drinking is safe.

People with specific questions about the safety of acyclovir and alcohol in their cases can discuss their concerns with a medical professional. Advice from patient to patient may vary depending on response to the medication, medical history, and lifestyle factors. If patients want to cut back on drinking for health reasons, or to reduce the risk of medication interactions, but aren’t sure about how to start; a medical professional can offer assistance and advice. It can be especially important to discuss a reduction in drinking if people have a history of drinking heavily, because they might be at risk of complications while tapering back or stopping alcohol consumption.

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