Author: Greg Basham
Last Updated: 4/09/2022
Metformin and Alcohol Interaction: Can You Drink Alcohol with Metformin?
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What Are The Effects of Mixing Alcohol with Metformin?
Metformin mixed with alcohol can have a serious effect on the body. Because Metformin increases the effectiveness of the glucose which naturally occurs in the body of a diabetic person, it helps to reduce the amount of glucose produced by the liver and absorbed by the intestines. Drinking alcohol impacts the effectiveness of Metformin because it significantly impacts blood sugar.
While a limited amount of rare alcohol consumption may not have a serious effect on someone taking Metformin, if consumed in greater amounts, it can reduce even further the production of glucose in the blood, more than intended with Metformin, causing the potential for more serious health complications.
Additionally, because Metformin and alcohol have similar effects on the body, gastrointestinal complications, muscle cramping, vomiting, nausea, loss of appetite, excess gas, indegistation, and heartbeat are all potential short-term side effects of mixing alcohol with Metformin. Some of the long-term side effects range from lactic acidosis to hypogeal, as both Metformin and alcohol, over a long period of combined use, can cause damage to the liver.
Metformin helps regulate blood sugars, so it can cause Hypoglycemia, which is low blood sugar. Hypoglycemia occurs when the body’s blood sugar level, also known as glucose, is lower than what medical professionals consider to be normal. Glucose, the main energy source for the body, is produced from consuming food. If the body does not produce and regulate glucose normally, then a hypoglycemia diagnosis is likely. When alcohol, which already can cause a drop in blood sugar, is mixed with Metformin, it can cause a severe drop in blood sugar. Mild symptoms of Hypoglycemia include hunger, headaches, and tiredness, which can be so mild they are not easily contributed to Hypoglycemia, whereas racing heartbeat, the exhaustion that is not sleep-related, cold sweats, blurred vision, slurred speech, and confusion, might be signs of more serious Hypoglycemia. It is important to note, most of all, that mixing alcohol with Metformin can make any of these symptoms even more severe.
2. Lactic Acidosis
Lactic Acidosis is primarily considered a very severe, but also rare, side effect of taking Metformin. Put simply, Lactic Acidosis can cause blood and muscle acidity. Lactic Acidosis tends to occur when the body undergoes heavy, or strenuous exercise, as the body uses anaerobic glucose to produce lactic acid, which creates lactate, which is in turn transformed into glucose by the liver. The lactate increases in volume in the bloodstream, and then does not clear away, as the normal processes are slowed by Metformin. Alcohol has the same impact on lactate production as Metformin, and can slow the process down in the same manner. When combined, especially in large doses, serious lactic acidosis can occur, which includes such dangerous symptoms as muscle seizures, intense weakness, low blood sugar, high pulse rate, nausea, vomiting, and even the shutdown of organs if not treated immediately.
Does Metformin Affect the Taste of Alcohol?
While Metformin does not directly affect the way that alcohol tastes, so long as the two substances are not taken at the same time, some people who do take Metformin feel the medication leaves a metallic taste in their mouth, which can directly affect the taste of alcohol and reduce the enjoyment of alcohol’s flavor.
How Does Alcohol Interact with Metformin’s Effect on Diabetes?
Metformin is a drug that helps to regulate blood sugars so that someone with diabetes does not experience the usual irregularities which come from an inability to properly produce glucose. On its own, there is already potential for Metformin to cause hypoglycemia, however, because alcohol also causes drops in the levels of blood sugar in the body, the risk of hypoglycemia becomes even higher. For this reason, consuming copious amounts of alcohol disables Metformin’s ability to truly help regulate diabetes, making the medicine far less effective.
Can A Mixture of Metformin and Alcohol Lead to Death?
When mixing Metformin with a responsible amount of alcohol, on occasion, serious complications are not likely. That being said, a mixture of Metformin and copious amounts of alcohol can be life-threatening, even leading to death, if the body reaches an intense state of lactic acidosis. Lactic acidosis, if gone untreated, can result in organ failure and shock, which may lead to death.
Does a Certain Dosage of Metformin Affect Interaction with Alcohol?
While any mixture of Metformin and alcohol is not recommended by medical professionals, the more Metformin stays in the bloodstream, the more impact it has on glucose and blood sugar levels. While on its own, this is how the medication is intended to operate, continued Metformin use can take a toll on the liver and organs. Alongside continued alcohol consumption, negative interaction is not only possible but expected. Additionally, the symptoms of mild lactic acidosis and hypoglycemia can be confused with the mind and body-altering effects of alcohol, so the two can interact with one another, but noticeable, and dangerous, interaction is more likely to occur when Metformin is taken consistently and alcohol consumed excessively.
Who Should Not Take Alcohol and Metformin?
Alcohol and Metformin should not be taken by people with a history of liver disease or by people who suffer from hepatitis C. However, it is not recommended for anyone to take Metformin and consume alcohol, as alcohol will inhibit the ability of Metformin to work properly, lead to more serious health complications, and make living with diabetes even more difficult for those dealing with the diagnosis.
Can I Take Metformin with Alcohol While Pregnant?
Not only does mixing Metformin with alcohol have the potential of causing serious health complications, but it also is not recommended to drink alcohol whatsoever when pregnant as consuming alcohol can have a detrimental impact on the health of the baby. When prescribed Metformin for diabetes, a person should stick to the medication, rather than mixing it with alcohol, which can lead to severe side effects, for not just the mother, but the child as well.
Are All Types of Alcohol Harmful with Metformin?
All types of alcohol are harmful with Metformin as all alcohol can negatively impact the normal blood sugar levels of a person. However, in small amounts, it is usually safe for an occasional drink of alcohol. The more dangerous side effects, which can be life-threatening, are not dependent on the type of alcohol consumed, but rather on the regularity alcohol is consumed and the volume. Binge drinking, and habitual drinking, such as alcoholism, are the most harmful forms of drinking.
How Much Metformin Can Be Dangerous to Take with Alcohol?
Metformin is taken in several doses, daily, sometimes twice, or even three times, usually with meals. No matter the form of Metformin, be it tablets or liquid, the medication is only capable of managing the effects of diabetes, and improving insulin sensitivity, if taken consistently. Metformin puts greater stress on the liver and organs when built up in the system, meaning that the more Metformin is taken, the more dangerous mixing alcohol can be, especially in large doses. As Metformin and alcohol have similar impacts on the body of a diabetic person, if Metformin is being taken daily, it is vital to abstain from regular alcohol consumption.
Does Alcohol Affect How Well Metformin will Work?
Alcohol can affect how well Metformin will work. Because Metformin improves insulin sensitivity by reducing the levels of blood sugar in the bloodstream, while consuming alcohol can spike blood sugar levels, considerable alcohol consumption will counteract the effectiveness of Metformin. Additionally, because both Metformin and alcohol both place unnatural stress on the function of the liver, mixing alcohol with Metformin may cause more damage than the medicine provides any benefits.
How Long After Taking Metformin Can You Drink Alcohol?
After taking Metformin, it is important to wait to drink alcohol. Medical professionals do not recommend drinking at the same time a person takes the medicine, but while lactic acidosis is most likely to occur when someone binge drinks and takes Metformin, after taking Metformin, it is considered acceptable by most medical professionals to limit themselves to one to drinks per day with food. This method will help to reduce the strain the alcohol may have on the liver, by reducing the volume of alcohol consumed, and allowing for easier digestion, as the alcohol is consumed alongside food, which acts as a natural buffer for the stomach, intestines, and bloodstream.
What Other Drugs Are Dangerous to Use With Alcohol?
Many drugs are considered dangerous to use with alcohol. Mixing drugs with alcohol can be a very dangerous practice, and some of the most dangerous drugs to mix with alcohol include painkillers such as Oxycontin, drugs prescribed for anxiety such as Xanax, and ADHD medications such as Adderall. These are all drugs that interact with the mind-altering effects of alcohol in an extremely dangerous way, which can be life-threatening. Depressants and stimulants should never be mixed, and the concoction of Alcohol with any of these, as well as any depressants, typically proves fatal.