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Avoid alcohol when treating and managing these conditions

By Dr Margarita Mwai | October 19th 2020 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

Alcohol has been shown to cause serious healing delays, recurrence or worsening in the course of treatment of conditions such as:
1.    Tuberculosis

It is advisable not to drink alcohol while on tuberculosis treatment to avoid increasing side effects of the drugs, particularly to avoid the harmful effects of the drugs to the liver.

Anti-TB drugs rarely cause harm to the liver, but alcohol can further increase drug side effects and toxicity because both affect the liver. If people are heavy alcohol users, the problem of liver damage is more likely and more serious. While someone who is drinking alcohol regularly can take TB treatment safely, there are risks and the doctor should explain these to the patient. Regular blood tests to make sure that the liver is functioning properly and vigilance for side effects, such as jaundice, is important.

2.    Cancer

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Potential risks of taking alcohol while on chemotherapy include; medication interactions, worsening of chemotherapy side effects, dehydration and the depressant effect of alcohol when combined with a disease that can lead to depression. It’s important to talk to your oncologist about recommendations based on your specific situation.

3.    Diabetes

The liver normally releases stored sugar to counteract falling blood sugar levels. But if your liver is busy metabolising alcohol, your blood sugar level may not get the boost it needs from your liver. Alcohol can result in low blood sugar shortly after you drink it and for as many as 24 hours.

Alcohol can aggravate diabetes complications, such as nerve damage and eye disease. But if your diabetes is under control and your doctor agrees, an occasional alcoholic drink is fine. However, choose alcoholic drinks that will not raise your blood sugar but also remember to check your sugar levels regularly as advised by the doctor.

4.    High blood pressure

Drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure. If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure (HBP or hypertension), your doctor may advise you to reduce the amount of alcohol you drink.

Unfortunately, red wine as a miracle drink for heart heath is a myth. The link reported in many of these studies supporting this myth may be due to other lifestyle factors rather than alcohol. Like any other dietary or lifestyle choice, it is a matter of moderation.

5. Gout

Gout is a type of arthritis that can be directly related to one’s alcohol intake. Gout is a condition where a buildup of a chemical known as uric acid happens in your joints in the hands and or feet, and it is incredibly painful. It can be temporary, or it can recur over and over again. Doctors believe that alcohol and arthritis, at least in this situation, are related because beer and liquor increase the risk of developing gout.

Gout is triggered by food and drinks that have substance referred to as called purine, and the amount of purine in alcohol is quite high.

-          The writer is a consultant family physician at Aga Khan University Hospital

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