Fibromyalgia and Alcohol: Can you Drink?

For many people, sitting down with a nice glass of wine or socializing with friends over a few cold ones is an enjoyable experience often embellished in their life.

Some enjoy this event only on occasion while others do so on a more frequent basis. But when a condition as serious as fibromyalgia strikes, it may put a damper on an activity that once was a regular part of your life.

Is it okay to drink if you have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia? This is a common question that many people have after such a diagnosis.

It is true that fibromyalgia affects your life greatly, but does that mean that alcohol is now a thing of the past?

What is Fibromyalgia?

More than 5.8 million people across the U.S. are affected by fibromyalgia, a painful, debilitating condition causing musculoskeletal pain throughout the body.

The pain can become quite severe for many sufferers and oftentimes is accommodated by fatigue, memory loss, mood problems and problems with sleep patterns.

The condition affects an individual’s quality of life and they may be unable to carry out normal activities of daily life. More women are affected by fibromyalgia than men, although men are not immune to the condition.

If you suspect that you have fibromyalgia, visiting your health care professional is your first line of defense. Although the condition is incurable, there are many different treatment options that can improve the quality of life.

There are also a number of lifestyle changes that one can initiate that enable them to live a more fulfilling life, even with fibromyalgia.

It is imperative that a doctor appointment is made so that you can learn your options for treatment of the condition.

Generally, the doctor will prescribe medications and therapy to treat fibromyalgia, but each case is different and your individual circumstances will be evaluated to determine your best route of treatment.

Alcohol worsens Fibromyalgia Flare-ups

Alcohol is a toxin to the body. When consumed in excess amounts, the body may begin to shut down as the body attempts to fight off the toxin.

Alcohol may have serious effects on the body, particularly when consumed in larger amounts. When you have a condition such as fibromyalgia, the effects of alcohol may worsen the effects that the condition brings to the body.

In addition, alcohol intolerance is a potential complication of those affected by fibromyalgia. Many people suffering from the condition say that even a drink or two causes them to experience severe pain and flare-ups.

Obviously, it is not a good idea to consume alcohol if it is going to make this already painful condition worse.

Have a Drink

News reports vary greatly from previous studies that suggested alcohol should not or could not be consumed by those with fibromyalgia.

Now many studies conclude that drinking alcohol may actually decrease the symptoms of fibromyalgia when consumed in moderate amounts.

Even if it does not aid in benefiting the condition, the study reports no harmful effects of consuming alcohol in moderate amounts.

One U.K. based study conducted in 2004, which hosted 950 participants, reported users experienced less pain, fewer problems with sleep and overall higher quality of life when they drank alcohol in moderate amounts.

Each Person is Different

Keep in mind that alcohol affects each person differently. It is possible that you may drink alcohol without any trouble while the next person may be unable to consume the beverage in any amount.

Also, keep in mind that the amount of alcohol consumed is a very important factor in how well your body can tolerate alcohol with fibromyalgia.

Drinkers consuming excess amounts of alcohol may find that there is an increased amount of pain while those who drink less find the exact opposite. The type of alcohol consumed also plays a role in the effects that the substance has on the body.

But the bottom line is clear: Studies suggest that alcohol may actually help some people ease their pains of fibromyalgia. Some studies suggest that alcohol intolerance occurs with the condition.

Both studies are correct since this substance affects each person in such different ways. Wine, an alcoholic beverage that has long been reported to have some positive effects on health, is one of the best to drink for these added benefits.

Red wine is of particular benefit to many people. You should not base your decision to drink –or not drink- on the report from one single study.

Sure, use the information to your advantage but remember that you are not the same as any other person out there. You are unique, just as the effects of alcohol on your body.

So what’s the Deal? Can I Drink or Not?

Whether or not you consume alcohol with a fibromyalgia diagnosis is a decision entirely up to you. Some say there are benefits; others say it is harmful and should be avoided at all costs.

Most agree, however, that in moderation, alcohol is certainly not harmful, as long as you are able to tolerate it without any added pain or flare-ups. This is not something that every patient with fibromyalgia can do.

What it really comes down to is a matter of personal decision and your ability to tolerate alcohol. Keep in mind that there is an increased risk of addiction if you are taking prescription medications for pain.

In this case, alcohol should probably not be consumed at all to avoid any potential interactions and this increased risk of addiction. Also, keep in mind your lifestyle and other factors when making your decision.

For many people, fibromyalgia does not affect their ability to consume alcohol, at least in moderation.

Also, keep in mind that each occurrence of alcohol consumption is different from the next, so just because you can consume it one time doesn’t mean that you will be able to the next.

It is imperative that you listen to your body and pay attention to the signs that develop.

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  1. I, personally, choose NOT to drink, as it does cause my flare-ups to be worse. I know others afflicted who do drink, but very, very little. And though I try not to have to take any pills, sometimes I do and I’d rather not mix the two. But to each their own. Just be careful.

  2. Alex London

    I really enjoy a glass of red wine and do have the occasional drink, however, it has been a long journey of trial and error to find when I can have a drink with minimal side effects. I absolutely can’t seem to tolerate spirits, especially dark spirits and I’ve found that even after only a couple of drinks my sleep suffers to the point that the next day I am wiped out. If I feel like I am on the verge of or in the middle of a flare up, I make sure to avoid all alcohol. Interestingly, a few of the people in my support group can tolerate alcohol with no side affects whatsoever and one member can be bed ridden for at least a day after just one drink. Everyone is obviously very different and I would advise all sufferers to tread carefully with alcohol because the fallout can be completely debilitating

  3. Paula Fricker

    Drinking alcohol reduces my fibromyalgia pains & pains due to my spinal damage. I find it works better for pain relieve & muscle spasm than any of my meds & works well along side my meds. When I’m really in agony it’s my saving grace!!

  4. Hannah Stein

    This was a fascinating read, since I didn’t realize that alcohol could have any affect on people coping with Fibromyalgia. I think to boil it down it’s safe to say that alcohol has the same affect on people, Fibromyalgia or not: some people’s bodies can’t tolerate it and others can, just in the case of those dealing with Fibromyalgia these can be taken to the extremes. I think you make some great points and certainly the most important is making it a personal decision. It’s comforting to know that in moderation it really can’t do any harm, but I think if one wanted to try it in moderation just to see there’s nothing wrong with that. If it’s bad, don’t do it again, if not then you can continue to enjoy it in moderation and it’s one less thing for you to be angry about your condition over.

    • Sheila Webber

      I have a very occasional margarita and seem to do ok with drinking two when I do have a drink. I do get sick from many other drinks.
      I can’t drink beer at all, wine gives me headaches/migraines. So, it boils down to the margarita doesn’t make me feel bad. Maybe it’s the tequila, who knows, but I don’t get intoxicated and they taste good!

  5. To me it would totally makes sense that alcohol would have a negative effect, since it is a toxin. So, I’m quite surprised to find that recent studies suggest that it may decrease symptoms when consumed in moderation. The fact that some users actually experienced less pain, and less problems sleeping is a very pleasant surprise.

  6. I’ve fibromyalgia for nearly 30 yrs… since high school. A doctor recommends a glass of red wine each night before bedtime to relax the tense muscles that get so tight by evening. I drink already 2 glasses of red wine every night and it helps immensely !

  7. I have Fibromyalgia and if I’m in a flare up I get some red wine and it helps so much! My kids apparently see a huge difference in me too, they are teens and ask me to drink so I can feel better. I definitely don’t want Fibromyalgia to make me into an alcoholic though so I try to push through without it!

  8. I get very little relief from pain meds and I have found that alcohol in moderation does help my pain and sleep. Of course the key is moderation. Too much alcohol consumption has adverse effects for anyone.

  9. Alot of Alcohol effects me very sick & sleep is worse. 1-2 wine I’m fine or 1-2 beer maximum really.

  10. I think that on occasion red wine helps when I’m having a severe flare up. I don’t care for beer, drinks like Mikes Hard Lemonade cause my back to have incredibly sharp muscle spasms even just one bottle, most spirits except tequila cause issues for days. Red wine on during social occasions for me is Ok. Otherwise, I drink water or tea. I completely stay away from mikes or Seagram’s products.

  11. Jillyn31

    I’ve enjoyed white wine as a way to relax & unwind for the past few years. Since my fibromyalgia diagnosis, it’s helped me sleep. Lately, I’ve realized I wake up feeling physically & emotionally worse, where as, this wasn’t a problem before. Saturday evening, I enjoyed my last alcoholic drink. It’s just not worth it anymore.

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