It’s well known that taking alcohol and painkillers together is a terrible idea, but how dangerous would it be to drink alcohol while taking arthritis medication like Meloxicam? The short answer: It’s very risky. It’s powerful and can cause major heart and gastrointestinal problems that could be life-threatening. Additionally, many of the specific side effects of this medication overlap with those caused by alcohol use. Read on to learn more about the side effects of mixing meloxicam and alcohol, why it reacts badly to alcohol, and how long until you can drink after having taken a dose.
Meloxicam and Alcohol Side Effects
On its own, taking meloxicam exactly as directed can result in the development of deadly heart and stomach issues. Adding alcohol to the mix, however, increases the likelihood of those serious health consequences occurring.
High Blood Pressure
One of the lesser-known side effects of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like meloxicam, is that itc can cause, or worsen, hypertension. This affects everything from your heart to kidneys and even your eyes. Alcohol is also known to cause acute blood pressure elevation as well (scientists believe this is because alcohol stimulates adrenal glands which result in your heart working harder and pumping more blood more quickly).
Although the effects of alcohol on blood pressure are rapidly reversible and resolve themselves within a few hours of consumption, when paired with meloxicam’s significant half-life, the overlap can be deadly on the body. The resulting cardiovascular stress lays the groundwork for a stroke or heart attack–both of which can be fatal.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like these are known to irritate the digestive tract. Constipation, diarrhea, stomach pain, and vomiting are fairly common. Far less common (and much more concerning) gastrointestinal side effects are the development of stomach ulcers. These are painful sores on the stomach lining that can interfere with digestion and result in a lot of discomfort.
Heavy drinking can also contribute to the development of a stomach ulcer. Alcohol does so by increasing the amount of stomach acid which can lead to irritation. When alcohol and meloxicam are combined, they not only amplify the likelihood of developing an ulcer but can exacerbate the condition, resulting in the potentially life-threatening complication of a bleeding ulcer. Symptoms of this condition include sticky stools that are black or dark red, bloody vomit, and anemia.
NSAIDs can cause two types of acute renal (kidney) injury and can lead to chronic kidney injury or failure. This is because the anti-inflammatory function of NSAIDs can inhibit the production of renal prostaglandins, important lipids that help maintain normal kidney function. With the kidneys producing fewer of them, these tiny bean-shaped organs can have a harder time regulating the balance of salt and water in the body (among other things). This can lead to fluid retention which can cause a domino effect that harms several vital organs and bodily functions in addition to the kidneys themselves. The longer NSAID, or in this case meloxicam, is used the greater these risks. Alcohol compounds these issues by directly interfering with your kidney’s ability to regulate fluid in the body. Alcohol compounds these issues by directly interfering with your kidney’s ability to regulate fluid in the body.
How long to wait to drink alcohol after taking Meloxicam?
The average meloxicam dosage has a half-life of about 20 hours. Since it takes at least five half-lives for a substance to be considered out of your body, it can take up to 5 days for meloxicam to get out of your system. However, since meloxicam is usually prescribed for long-time use, drinking any alcohol at all while taking this medication is ill-advised. Essentially, there is no “safe” time-frame to have alcoholic after taking meloxicam.
If you or someone you know is unwilling or unable to stop drinking while taking an NSAID like meloxicam, they’re putting their health in serious peril. Continuing to drink in light of painful side effects could be demonstrative of an unhealthy drinking compulsion. Learn more about identifying the signs of alcoholism and what to do when you confirm them.