Picture of a wine glass and pint of beer in relation to MS and alcohol

MS and alcohol

With the festive season in full swing, many people indulge more than they normally would, and why not? It’s only once a year, the weather outside is cold and dark, and it’s a time to traditionally let your hair down.

But if you have multiple sclerosis (MS), how does the extra alcohol consumed at parties or around the dinner table affect things?

What research tells us

Studies looking at alcohol consumption and MS have produced mixed results. Some studies have suggested that moderate alcohol consumption might impart a protective effect against the development of MS. This suggests that consuming alcohol within recommended limits may be associated with a lower risk of developing the disease. Moderate alcohol consumption is generally defined as up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. The mechanisms behind this potential protective effect are not entirely clear, but it is hypothesised that certain compounds in alcoholic beverages may have anti-inflammatory properties that could influence the immune system.

While moderate alcohol intake may be associated with potential benefits, the same cannot be said for excessive alcohol consumption. Excessive drinking is known to have detrimental effects on health, affecting various organ systems, and potentially impacting the immune system. While no direct causative link between excessive alcohol consumption and the development of MS has been firmly established, it is crucial to consider the broader health implications of heavy drinking.

Disease progression and alcohol

Beyond the question of MS development, researchers have also explored whether alcohol consumption might influence the progression of the disease in people already diagnosed with MS. However, findings in this area are inconclusive. Some studies suggest that alcohol may exacerbate certain symptoms, such as balance and coordination issues, while others do not find a significant impact. It is important to note that the responses to alcohol can vary among people with MS, and the complex nature of the disease means it is difficult to draw universal conclusions.

Some people with MS may find that alcohol worsens specific symptoms, while others may not notice significant changes. The interaction between alcohol and MS is influenced by various factors, including the specific symptoms an individual is dealing with, the severity of the disease, and individual variations in how the body responds to alcohol.

Balance issues can be compounded by the effects of alcoholic drinks, and anything that threatens your stability can of course make you more prone to falls.

Alcohol and medication

Some drugs for treating MS may have contraindications or potential adverse effects when combined with alcohol. Therefore, you should discuss whether your particular medication has any adverse potential reactions if you are planning to have alcohol.

Your relationship with alcohol

Beyond the direct relationship with MS, it’s essential to consider the broader impact of alcohol on overall health. Excessive alcohol consumption can contribute to various health issues, including liver disease, cardiovascular problems, and mental health concerns. People with MS, like anyone else, should be mindful of their overall health and wellbeing. Adopting a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet and regular exercise, is crucial for managing MS and promoting general health.

As research in this field continues, a nuanced and individualized approach is essential to navigate the complexities of the relationship between alcohol and multiple sclerosis.

If you’d like to find out even more on MS and alcohol, then click the buttons below to our various blog posts.