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Alcohol is a diuretic itself so combining other diuretics and alcohol may produce a greater diuretic effect and increase any side effects produced by the drug or herb. A common side effect that has been reported is a reduction in blood pressure which may cause dizziness, especially when standing up suddenly from a reclining or sitting position. Dehydration is a very real risk when using either diuretics or drinking alcohol and this is doubled when combining diuretics with alcohol.
Diuretics are drugs or herbs that increase the flow of urine, which is termed diuresis. They increase the amount of sodium and chloride excreted from the body through the urine, which then draws excess water from the body. Hypertension and edema, or swelling caused by fluid in the body's tissues, are two common conditions treated by diuretics. Edema can be caused by eating too much salt, sunburn or conditions such as heart failure, kidney disease and cirrhosis of the liver. Diuretics, or water pills, are prescribed to keep the swelling down. In the case of hypertension, diuretics help the body get rid of excess salt and fluids which lowers blood pressure and makes it easier for the heart to pump.
Combing diuretics and alcohol increases the risk of the side effects associated with water pills. Frequent urination, arrhythmia or an abnormal heart rhythm, muscle cramps, dehydration and dizziness are some of the effects exacerbated by the combination of diuretics and alcohol. Many people feel dizzy or lightheaded especially when they stand up suddenly, and drinking alcohol will make the problem worse. Diuretics are often taken concurrently with other drugs so the interaction between these drugs and alcohol also needs to be considered.
Perhaps the most obvious connection between diuretics and alcohol is that the diuretic effect of alcohol itself is a significant one. Alcohol blocks the release of the anti-diuretic hormone in the body which is needed for water re-absorption, stimulating the body to produce more urine. Drinking too much alcohol can lead to dehydration, of which a dry mouth is a common symptom. Should a person be taking water pills which also increase the amount of urine expelled from the body, then the danger of dehydration becomes very real A good rule of thumb is to never drink alcohol when taking drugs of any kind, as some combinations can be very dangerous. At the very least, drinking alcohol may render the drug ineffective.