Monday, August 27, 2012

Read This Before You Sip

Blueberry mojito image and recipe found here. 

Yesterday's post, in which I described a lovely muddled blueberry mojito, evoked this comment from Heidi:
Hi Julia ...sounds like a good day..Stupid ? I really love wine and beer but have not had any since this started...How did your mojito impact you if at all? Dryness, reflux? I guess if anything I am more concerned about my reflux issues. I can't help but think one small but delicious drink would be ok while on plaquenil...right???? :)
Heidi -- first things first. There are NO stupid questions around here. And even if there were, it would be ME that asks them. Or my BICJ. Because we are the doofus ones around this blog.

So onto the distinctly non-stupid question.

Each one of us tolerates alcohol differently, sjoggies and non-sjoggies included. But -- I have to say that I do seem to metabolize alcoholic drinks differently now than I did before autoimmune disease in that I feel the effects of an adult beverage much more quickly than previously. Some types of wines and mixed drinks, red wines in particular (I suspect the sulfites in red wine may be the culprit) cause my face to flush bright red and my scalp to itch INTENSELY. Every now and then, even a large sip of communion wine will cause me to scratch furiously within seconds of the swallow. Other alcohols -- rum, for example -- don't seem to bother me at all, which is probably why I enjoyed my rum-containing mojito.

Dr. Young Guy has given me permission to have one adult beverage per week, although I rarely do. My usual is one or two drinks per month. There have been periods of time when I have not consumed any alcohol at all on the advice of Dr. Young Guy. Some medications which I have taken previously -- methotrexate and Gengraf -- are very taxing for the liver to de-toxify, and adding the additional burden of handling alcohol would not have been healthy for my liver. Even over the counter medications such as NSAIDS (Tylenol, ibuprofen, and aspirin to name just a few) are all metabolized through the liver, and several additionally may cause GI upset and irritation which is magnified by alcohol use. Alcohol is very drying to oral mucosa, so yes, your mouth may feel more dry temporarily after a drink or two. As an aside, this is why most rheumatologists recommend avoiding mouthwashes that contain alcohol as one of their ingredients. Used over time, the alcohol can cause dryness, irritation, and may increase the potential of thrush infections in the mouth.

I would have a frank discussion with your rheumatologist regarding your medications and their potential interaction with alcohol, as well as the effects that alcohol consumption may have on your particular symptoms from autoimmune disease.

The National Institutes of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has a graph, found here, which describes some of the medications which may interact in a dangerous way with alcohol. You may want to review this information before you initiate your discussion with your physician. You can also read more about medication and alcohol interactions here.

Cheers. Maybe.


annie said...

Many years ago, way before knowing I was ill with anything, I found even a sip of beer or wine would make my face flush beet red and my face and head would start sweating profusely. I did think about sulfites in wine, and malt in beer, both of which I have a sensitivity to.I do sip some red wine on special family occasions, but avoid all other liquor, as my mouth,palate and tongue start burning. Thanks for the info.

Anonymous said...

I also tolerate alcohol differently than before. I should avoid white wine, I can have a beer, or a red wine glass, once aweek for example, but not two days in a row or my stomach will be very upset !

Unknown said...

Thanks for the follow-up Julia!