Moderate alcohol consumption may not cause issues with symptoms directly or have a direct link to Parkinson’s. However, it can interact with a person’s medications, which could worsen some symptoms.
Both alcohol and Parkinson’s disease affect the brain. Over the years, several different studies examined the relationship between alcohol consumption and Parkinson’s.
A person taking certain medications may experience worsening or additional symptoms when drinking alcohol. This may be due to how alcohol interacts with the medications used to treat Parkinson’s disease.
This article reviews whether alcohol makes Parkinson’s symptoms worse, its effect on medications, and finding support.
Studies examining the relationship between alcohol and Parkinson’s tend to focus on the potential risk factor associated with alcohol consumption.
Alcohol may worsen some symptoms associated with Parkinson’s. For example, experts may recommend avoiding alcohol before bedtime for people with sleep disturbances, such as insomnia.
Independent of Parkinson’s, experts
Other recent studies indicate that heavy drinking may increase the risk of a person developing Parkinson’s and other neurological disorders.
Regardless of risk, a person with Parkinson’s should consider reducing or stopping their consumption of alcohol because it can exacerbate some symptoms, such as sleep issues, and interfere with medications used to treat Parkinson’s.
Doctors use several different medications to treat Parkinson’s disease. Alcohol can interact with several of them, causing them to not work properly or resulting in unwanted side effects.
A person should discuss the medications with a doctor and take them according to a medical professional’s instructions.
Levodopa is one of the most common and effective Parkinson’s medications. Alcohol can increase the likelihood of a person experiencing side effects from the medication.
People usually take Levodopa in combination with carbidopa (Sinemet).
Side effects include:
- orthostatic hypotension, a sudden drop in blood pressure due to a change in posture
Learn more about drug interactions here.
Dopamine agonists are another type of medication used to treat Parkinson’s. Drinking alcohol while taking dopamine agonists can increase the likelihood of side effects, including:
- impulse control disorders
- sleep attacks
- orthostatic hypotension
- swelling of ankles
Learn about the relationship between dopamine and Parkinson’s here.
Amantadine is another option for treating Parkinson’s symptoms, such as tremors and muscle stiffness. The drug’s prescribing information sheet advises against drinking alcohol while taking the medication due to the possibility of increased adverse reactions, including:
- orthostatic hypotension
Learn more about the side effects of amantadine here.
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) type B help break down several chemicals in the brain, including dopamine. They may provide mild relief of movement symptoms. A doctor can prescribe them early in the disease progression.
When taken with alcohol, a person may experience side effects associated with the medication, such as:
- mild nausea
- dry mouth
Learn more about the stages and symptoms of Parkinson’s here.
For some, reducing or quitting alcohol can be a challenge. Several programs and therapies may help people stop their use or misuse of alcohol. A person
- Behavioral health services: These may include talk therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy.
- Support groups: There are groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).
- Prescription medications: Doctors may prescribe certain drugs, such as naltrexone.
- Working with primary care doctor: A doctor or other healthcare professional can help determine drinking patterns, help develop a treatment plan, and refer the person to additional services.
Family members may also find that support groups can help support a person who misuses alcohol.
Learn more about alcohol use disorder and its treatment here.
A person should consider speaking to a doctor about the medications they prescribe. A doctor can better determine when and if a person can safely drink alcohol when taking medications to treat Parkinson’s.
People may want to speak to a doctor if they notice worsening symptoms of Parkinson’s. They may work with the person to switch medications or try new therapies to help control symptoms.
Learn more about other treatment options for Parkinson’s disease here.
Though mild to moderate alcohol use does not increase the risk of Parkinson’s, heavy drinking may. People with Parkinson’s may develop worsening associated symptoms, such as depression or sleep issues, when consuming alcohol.
Another consideration is the use of medications to treat Parkinson’s and alcohol. Alcohol can make it more likely that a person will develop an adverse reaction to their medications.
A person should consider discussing alcohol use with a doctor.