Alcohol and MS | Does Alcohol Affect MS?

People frequently wonder if there is any relationship or association between alcohol and MS. They wonder what role alcohol plays in the potential development of MS, and they also question “does alcohol affect MS.”

The following provides an overview of what MS is and the potential relationship between alcohol and MS.

Alcohol and MS | Does Alcohol Affect MS?
Multiple sclerosis or MS is a disease of the central nervous system. It disrupts how the brain and body communicate with one another, and it also impacts how messages transmit internally within the brain. There is still research being done into what causes MS, and currently, scientists think it might have to do with a combination of environmental factors and genetic predisposition. MS can vary in severity, and the progression of the disease can look different in different people. The age of diagnosis also ranges, and it’s often between 20 and 50. MS impacts women significantly more than men as well. With MS the person’s immune system responds abnormally to the central nervous system. Some of the symptoms of MS can include fatigue, numbness, coordination and balance problems, blurred vision, slurred speech, tremors, memory problems, paralysis, and blindness. For some people, the symptoms come and go, but for many, they will be continuous and will worsen over time. While paralysis is one of the possible symptoms of MS, many people with it do not become severely disabled, and the life expectancy for people with this condition has increased thanks to various treatment options that have been introduced as well as improved healthcare, and lifestyle shifts. While MS can’t be currently cured, some medicines are becoming available through FDA approval that can help the course of MS and can delay the progression to paralysis or disability. So what about alcohol and MS? Does alcohol affect MS?
There are mixed opinions about the relationship between alcohol and MS. Some doctors and researchers believe a small amount of alcohol can be beneficial for people with MS because it can improve heart health. This is relevant because people with MS are slightly more likely to have cardiovascular problems as opposed to the general population. In that sense, having up to one drink a day if you’re a woman, and two if you’re a man, could provide some level of benefit. However, that’s not the only thing to think about regarding alcohol and MS. Alcohol has a significant impact on the central nervous system, so if you combine alcohol and MS, your symptoms may become worse. For example, MS affects coordination and balance, and alcohol can do the same because of the effects of the central nervous system. You may experience heightened symptoms of both the alcohol and MS if you combine the two. Knowing how you’ll react to alcohol is important if you’re thinking about drinking and have MS. If you’re sensitive to alcohol and you have MS, it’s probably best not to drink, but if you’re not, having an occasional drink may be okay. Another thing to think about with alcohol and MS is the fact that some of the medications you may be on might not mix well with alcohol. For example, many of the currently available MS medicines can cause liver damage, and if you drink, you could be at higher risk for this. Medicines for MS can also cause strange side effects when mixed with alcohol regarding mood and how you feel. There were also some misconceptions that circulated about the potential link between alcohol and MS, in terms of the potential for drinking to raise your risk of developing the disease. However, there was a study that debunked that idea and showed that drinking alcohol in moderation actually helped reduce the risk of MS in people who also smoked. Even with that, the study authors were emphatic that people shouldn’t turn to drinking as a way to reduce their risk of MS, but they wanted just to highlight that drinking doesn’t seem to have a link to an increased risk of developing MS.
So, does alcohol affect MS? As far as researchers know now, drinking moderately may be okay if you have MS, but there are things to be cautious about. First, people’s definition of moderate drinking can be different from what doctors mean. Moderate drinking is usually one drink for women in a day, and two for men. You should also be aware that with alcohol and MS since both impacts the central nervous system, some symptoms may be amplified, such as a lack of balance and coordination. Also speak with your physician about potential interactions between alcohol and MS medications that you may be taking, because there may be side effects ranging from mild to severe.
Alcohol and MS | Does Alcohol Affect MS?
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