Mix with Care

Patient Expert

When I was a teenager, there were rumors going around about combining aspirin and Coca-Cola. For instance, you should never combine the two when out with a guy because the combination produced an aphrodisiac. But the most popular rumor said that if you dropped an aspirin or two in a bottle of Coke and drank it, it gave you a real "high." Just like a shot of booze. But other hearsay warned of caution. That same combination could kill you.

Well, all of the above have since proved to be nothing but urban legends. Some other combinations are not so harmless. A  news item reports: "Researchers in Arizona warn that sleeping pills and sodas do not mix, and can in fact cause heartburn at night so severe that it disrupts sleep on a regular basis."

This is, according to the researchers, because of the high acidity level in carbonated beverages. Add to that the fact that many of these bottled or canned sodas also contain caffeine, another known cause of heartburn, and you can see where the trouble arises.

The sodas mixed with benzodiazepines, (including valium, xanax and halcion) caused the most problems, but why take chances? Avoid all carbonated beverages within two or three hours of bedtime and pills.

Heartburn is not only irritating, but it can be dangerous. Complications include damage to the lining of the esophagus, including inflammation and swelling, narrowing of the esophagus to such a degree that swallowing is difficult, and even esophageal cancer.

It's dangerous to mix many substances. For instance, herbal remedies can counteract or increase the effects of prescription drugs. Some mixtures can cause illness and even death.

Something that has been emphasized repeatedly is the danger of mixing prescription drugs, in particular sleeping pills, tranquilizers or antidepressants, with alcohol. Can't sleep? Alcohol is always a bad choice as a nightcap. Mix it with the above mentioned medications, and it can be deadly. You'll get your sleep all right, perhaps forever.

WARNING: Always think twice about what you're mixing together. Wash those sleeping pills down with cold, clear water, or maybe a glass of milk. Put the booze away long before bedtime, and forego that bottle of soda.

If in doubt about drug reactions, whether prescription or herbal remedy, check with your doctor or accredited herbalist. Don't take chances. If you're having trouble sleeping, discuss it with your doctor, then take only what he prescribes. Stay safe.