Beware mixing alcohol, medication at your holiday parties

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- It may be the season for eating and drinking all your holiday favorites, but watch out if you're taking medicine for a cold or a cough.

Drinking even a little alcohol might not mix well with those over-the-counter drugs, and could make the alcohol more potent.

"In other cases taking medication while drinking can actually increase their effect or cause potentially harmful side effects," said Lisa Gill of Consumer Reports.

For example: anti-anxiety drugs like Valium or Ativan. Taking them with alcohol can cause dizziness, drowsiness or very slow breathing, and increases the risk of an overdose.

The same goes for opioids like Vicodin, Percocet and Demerol.

Mixing alcohol and antibiotics such as azithromycin can cause nausea and vomiting.

For doxycycline, alcohol can reduce its ability to fight infection.

Many over-the-counter drugs can also interact with alcohol.

"Some antihistamines like Dimetapp, Zyrtec or Benadryl Allergy can cause increased drowsiness. Even common pain relievers like Advil or Tylenol can be dangerous when taken with too many drinks," Gill said.

The health risks of mixing alcohol and medication can really increase when you're taking more than one drug.

Blood pressure medicines can cause various heart problems when taken with alcohol.

And if you're on the blood thinner Coumadin, and have more than three drinks, it could increase the risk of a stroke.
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