Many may mix alcohol with medications
A high percentage of Americans may drink alcohol while they're taking medications, such as sleeping pills or blood pressure drugs, and that increases the chances that they'll suffer side effects, notes new research at the National Institutes of Health.
The researchers analyzed surveys from 27,000 people age 20 and older who reported how much alcohol they drank during the past year, and which medications they used over the past month. They found that 41.5 percent of the people who reported drinking alchohol also were taking medications that could interact with it. The researchers determined that this seemed to be particularly common among older adults--almost 78 percent of people ages 65 and over reported both drinking and taking such medications.
The scientists pointed out that side effects tend to occur more frequently with older people because as their metabolism slows down, so does their ability to break down both alcohol and certain medications, "creating a much longer window for potential interactions,"
Medications ranging from sleeping aids to blood pressure drugs to pain pills can cause problems when when taken with alcohol, such as nausea, headaches, loss of coordination, internal bleeding, heart problems and difficulties in breathing.