Inflammatory Arthritis

What is the Relationship Between Arthritis and Alcohol?

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This article will answer some of the most popular questions about alcohol and arthritis to help individuals as they manage their condition.

Disclaimer: This article is meant for educational purposes only and should not be used as medical advice. Please reach out to your doctor if you have any questions about consuming alcohol prior to making any changes to your diet.

Does alcohol cause inflammation?

Yes, alcohol can cause inflammation across one’s entire body. There are two main types of inflammation that alcohol can cause, including chronic and acute inflammation.

Acute inflammation in regards to alcohol is when the body has an instant, immediate inflammatory reaction caused by consuming alcohol. This may be evident through ‘hangover’ symptoms that many people experience, which includes symptoms such as headache, nausea or vomiting. These symptoms usually don’t last very long and resolve without intervention or treatment within a couple of days. Chronic inflammation in regards to alcohol occurs when alcohol causes inflammation that gets worse over time, rather than resolving like acute inflammation. 

Is there a link between arthritis and alcohol?

Some studies have shown a link between alcohol and the development and/or worsening of arthritis, however nothing concrete has been found for the condition as a whole. 

However, the condition Gout, which is one type of inflammatory arthritis, has been found to be related to alcohol in a very direct way. Gout is an extremely common (but unfortunately not straightforward) form of arthritis that causes extreme instances of pain, including redness, swelling, discomfort, lack of motion, and sensitivity to joints, usually the big toe. 

The relationship between this type of arthritis and alcohol lies in the research that has been conducted, which has shown the strong connection between the two. Drinking alcohol increases the amount of ‘uric acid’ that your body produces. When someone develops gout, it is because there is a build up of uric acid in their blood. Therefore, the more excess uric acid in the blood, the more likely you are to develop gout. Alcohol not only can cause gout to develop, but it can also make one’s gout symptoms significantly worse. As alcohol can cause an individual to become dehydrated, and the kidneys need water to get rid of excess uric acid, this makes one’s gout symptoms worse. This is another way that gout and alcohol relate to one another. Drinking less alcohol or abstaining from alcohol can help reduce your chances of developing gout, or of your gout symptoms worsening. 

Can alcohol help with symptoms of arthritis?

There have been studies that show that alcohol may help with some symptoms of arthritis, more specifically rheumatoid arthritis (RA). It has also been shown in some studies that those who normally drank alcohol and then stopped doing so, experienced worsening symptoms in terms of things like pain and fatigue. However, it is not recommended that if you do not currently drink, that you start to. Avoiding alcohol completely is always a safe bet. 

Are some types of alcohol better or worse for arthritis symptoms?

No type of alcohol has been proven to be worse than another when it comes to the severity or frequency of arthritis symptoms. 

Is there a risk around taking my medication for arthritis and drinking alcohol?

There can be! Drinking alcohol can interfere with the effectiveness or side effects of many medications, such as general painkillers (such as ibuprofen), or medications like methotrexate. If you have questions about the medication you are on and its safety alongside alcohol, please reach out to your doctor and ask. It’s important not to feel embarrassed or awkward when asking questions like this – your doctor is there to help you, not judge you! 

How much alcohol should I drink?

If you haven’t been instructed to abstain completely from alcohol, it is safe to assume that drinking a minimal amount of alcohol is ideal in maintaining good health. Overconsumption of alcohol can cause many issues in one’s health and is discouraged for those with or without arthritis. Alongside minimising alcohol consumption, one should eat a healthy, balanced diet, exercise regularly and avoid smoking. These are all helpful factors in maintaining good health and positive health outcomes. 

If you have any questions about the consumption of alcohol and the impact that it has on your condition, make sure to reach out to your doctor to receive proper advice based on your specific and current health status.

If you want to share your story of living with inflammatory arthritis, please email Sarah at today.


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