Existing health conditions - the effects of alcohol
Existing health problems
The sort of health problems that can be affected by drinking alcohol include:
Diabetes and alcohol
Alcohol contains a lot of calories, so if you're diabetic your healthcare professional (such as a doctor, diabetic nurse or dietician) may advise you to drink less as part of a balanced, calorie-controlled diet. If you manage your diabetes with tablets or insulin then drinking alcohol could be more dangerous.
You'll also need to ask your healthcare professional about how drinking could affect your diabetes treatment and any other medication you take.
Depression & anxiety and alcohol
There's a strong link between heavy alcohol consumption and feeling depressed or anxious, because alcohol works as a depressant drug on your nervous system and can make you feel worse not better. A hangover may sometimes include symptoms of anxiety and feeling low.
Hypertension (high blood pressure) and alcohol
This is common in very heavy drinkers, and if you have high blood pressure then reducing your drinking could help. If you've already had a heart attack, drinking could put you at greater risk of high blood pressure and further damage to your heart.
Alcoholic liver disease and alcohol
If you’ve already been diagnosed with alcoholic liver disease, you’ll almost certainly have been advised that you need to stop drinking completely. It's important that you discuss how to do this initially, and how to keep it up, with your healthcare professional (that is, your doctor or other clinical advisor).
Alcohol and taking painkillers
Generally, it is not advisable to drink alcohol and take pain killers. It may not be a good idea to drink much if you have an injury that needs some care. If you’ve taken aspirin or paracetamol, say, for a headache or period pain, before drinking alcohol you’re risking damage to your stomach lining and to your liver. Always check the pack advice if you know you’ll be having a drink later.
You'll need to be particularly careful if taking alcohol with many of the stronger painkillers, when too much alcohol could be risky as you may become drowsy. Always read the information provided.
Chronic heart disease and alcohol
You may need to plan to stop drinking alcohol completely if you have chronic heart disease. Ask your healthcare professional (that is, your doctor or other clinical advisor) for advice on this.