Is It Bad To Drink Alcohol When You're Sick? 6 Reasons To Reconsider That Glass Of Wine

Ad failed to load

When you feel like you're getting sick, there are two things you've been told to do since you were but a wee one: get extra sleep and drink tons of water — both of which are excellent pieces of advice. However, there's a bit of confusion and misunderstanding surrounding something else: alcohol. While some people think it's good to throw back a drink or two when they're under the weather, there are quite a few (very serious) reasons to avoid alcohol if you feel like you're getting sick.

Everyone likes to "joke" that alcohol kills germs, and that's their excuse for drinking when they're sick — except it's not really a joke, because it can be dangerous and have long-term consequences. While research published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology has found that red wine specifically could thwart germs from attacking your body, generally speaking, alcohol will cause tremendous damage long before it will kill enough germs to help you fight illness, explains.

Consuming alcohol in excess is risky in general — that's a no-brainer. But when your body is fending off sickness, you could be at even greater risk. Here are just six reasons you should stay far away from alcoholic drinks if you're not feeling quite like yourself.

Ad failed to load

1You'll Turn A Bad Mood Into A Terrible Mood


Let's start at the beginning: alcohol is a depressant. You already know this. What you might forget, though, is after that initial boost it gives you, you crash again; and this depressant can actually leave you depressed, according to the American Addiction Centers. Aside from sadness, this could encourage sleeping troubles, fatigue, feeling worthless, guilt, and trouble concentrating.

You already feel like garbage when you're sick. Add to that the side effects of alcohol, and you have a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. If you're coughing up a storm, do yourself a favor and skip your Friday martinis until it passes.

2Alcohol Can Make You Even More Dehydrated


You've known since you were a kid that when you're sick, you need to get as many fluids in as possible. This is because, as Indiana Public Media explains, you're losing more fluids than normal through a runny nose, sweating, vomiting, and diarrhea. It goes further than this, though. If you have a fever, you might be even more dehydrated, because even the slightest rise in your body temperature could mean an increased metabolism. Your body is working faster and harder, which means it needs more water and more oxygen. This is why it's so crucial to stay hydrated when you're sick.

Now, what about alcohol?

Alcohol also dehydrates you, because it's a diuretic — meaning it makes your body produce more urine than normal. LiveStrong explains this happens because alcohol prevents the release of antidiuretic hormone (ADH), which is necessary for water reabsorption. So, instead of your kidneys completing this task, that water is eliminated from your body as urine.

To review: being sick makes you dehydrated. Drinking alcohol makes you dehydrated. The effects of dehydration could range from dizziness and confusion (per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) to death.

Takeaway: don't imbibe when you're sick.

3Booze Works Against Your Immune System


As Harvard Health Publishing points out, our immune systems are pretty amazing; but nothing's perfect. Every now and then, one pesky, persistent germ might sneak inside and make us sick, compromising our immune system. This is why we've always been told to really take it easy when we're sick — sleep as much as possible, eat healthy foods, and drink tons of water. It's an attempt to try to boost our immune system.

If you're sick and your immune system can't defend your body as efficiently as usual, alcohol will only make this worse. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism explains that we have two kinds of defensive systems: and innate system and an adaptive one. The innate system is in charge before you get sick. The adaptive system intervenes after you've gotten sick. And guess what? Alcohol suppresses both of them.

Ad failed to load

4It Could Mix Badly With Your Medications


You see it on every warning label of literally every medicine known to mankind: "Do not consume with alcohol." They're not just being cautious; combining alcohol and medicine can have serious ramifications. According to a report by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, these ramifications include nausea, vomiting, fainting, difficulty breathing, heart problems, and even internal bleeding. Alcohol could render your medicine useless or even make it dangerous for your body.

Don't do it. Not even a sip.

5Your Drowsiness Could Worsen


There's a reason you feel so tired and sluggish when you're sick. According to research shared in eLife, when animals are in a stressful environment, their bodies signal them to revert to sleep so that they can recover from the stress. A similar process might occur in humans, and for a good reason: your body needs to sleep, so you shouldn't fight it.

Here's why alcohol is bad news for your snooze fest. While a lot of people use booze to fall asleep — and while it may work at first — it also has a negative effect on sleep quality, says the National Sleep Foundation. Alcohol might inhibit REM sleep, encourage snoring or sleep apnea, and otherwise cause you to wake up in the middle of the night.

6You Could Have Trouble Digesting Nutrients


The conditions of being sick, as LiveStrong points out, could leave your body totally depleted of electrolytes, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients — whether it be due to dehydration, loss of appetite, diarrhea, or vomiting. This further worsens the situation for your metabolism and immune system.

Alcohol can only make this worse. When you drink too much of it, it can deplete your body's levels of B vitamins, minerals, macronutrients, and more, says

Sickness and alcohol combined mean your body will be ridiculously, overwhelming, dangerously desperate for the healthy stuff. Don't drink when you're sick!

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

These Are The Beauty Products That Came Out In May That You DEFINITELY Need On Your Radar

For beauty lovers, months aren't just months: They're 28 to 31 day periods, wherein any and all product and brand launches can happen — and when they do, it feels like your birthday, no matter what time of the year you were actually born. The May 201…
By Amanda Richards

Everything Leaving & Coming To Netflix In June To Help Get Your Summer Started

Summer is right around the corner, and so is another batch of streaming options to get excited about. On Wednesday, everything leaving and coming to Netflix in June 2018 was announced by the streaming platform. And don't worry, there's something for …
By Jamie Primeau

The 5 Rom-Coms You Need To Read This Summer, According To Someone Who Writes Them

'Tis the season for rom-coms. The weather is warm, the sun is shining, and everyone is rocking the flirtiest items in their wardrobe. I don't know about you, but summer always takes me back to my teenage years — and that automatically makes me want t…
By Cristina Arreola

11 Tiny Sunglasses That Will Make You Look Even Cooler Than Kylie Jenner

You know what they say — the tinier the sunglasses, the more stylish the outfit. OK, that's not really a saying, but it seems to be the case these days. Basically every celebrity, model, and It person has been spotted sporting tiny sunglasses as part…
By Sara Tan

9 Ways This Royal Wedding Was Way More Modern Than Past Ones

The newly named Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, made history with their storybook courtship and wedding. What's more, there are myriad ways the royal wedding 2018 was more modern than previous royal weddings. From deciding…
By Brandi Neal

10 Little-Known British Traditions Meghan Markle Will Learn When She Marries Prince Harry

As an American woman dating a Brit, I am no stranger to the mishaps that can result from the cultural differences between the U.S. and England. And while I'm sure Meghan Markle has a slew of royal traditions to learn, titles to remember, and fancy ha…
By Kristin Magaldi

I've Paid $18,000 To A $24,000 Student Loan, & I Still Owe $24,000

It all became real the summer before my senior year of college. It was 2010, and my home phone still had a cord, which I wrapped around my fingers as I waited not-so-patiently for the apathetic representative on the other end to tell me the bad news …
By Kaitlyn Cawley

12 Personality Quizzes That Will Help You Determine Your Exact Strengths

Learning more about yourself can be tough. It's so easy to observe others to learn what makes them tick, what areas they really excel in, and the things they could be better at. Doing that to yourself, however, is a whole different story. That's exac…
By Jessica Booth

5 Brand New Short Story Collections You Can Finish In One Sitting This Weekend

Since 2013, May has been known by book-lovers by another name: Short Story Month. If you're ready to kick off this year's celebration the right way, make sure to pick up a short story collection to read over the weekend. Modern life moves more than …
By Sadie Trombetta

I Got Styled By 'Queer Eye's Tan France & Realized I Still Have A Lot Of Fashion "Rules" To Unlearn

When I walked into a New York City Express store on May 2 to get styled by Queer Eye's Tan France, I was ready for anything. And I mean truly anything. I am such a massive fan of the show and Tan that if he had instructed me to wrap myself in tin foi…
By Olivia Muenter

It Isn’t Bad To Have A “Princess Fantasy” — Mine Made Me The Woman I Am Today

What do you want to be when you grow up? If you were anything like me as a kid, at some point, the answer to that question was "a princess." Thanks to good old-fashioned gender stereotypes, most little girls born in the '90s (and even now) grew up in…
By Nicole Pomarico

Here’s How To Get A FREE 30-Minute Facial At Sephora That Sucks Your Pores Clean

Sephora has long been a mecca for both serious and amateur beauty lovers alike, where they not only have makeup artists that help answer questions about products, but free samples to let you play with new collections. But now they have upped the ante…
By Marlen Komar

Kris Jenner Is FINALLY Launching A Makeup Line With Kylie

Maybe you don't have a favorite sister of the Kar-Jenner clan, and that's perfectly fine. The one thing you can't deny, though, is that when it comes power, no one in that family has more than the world famous momager. Now, Kris Jenner x Kylie Cosmet…
By Shea Simmons

This Kendall Jenner “Diva” Moment Is Really Being Taken Out Of Context

The fashion always takes center stage at the Met Gala, but there's usually a little drama, too. And this time, a member of the Kardashian-Jenner family is involved. People are buzzing about how Kendall Jenner shoved someone at the Met Gala, but after…
By Nicole Pomarico

Feel Like You've Seen Everything On Netflix? Add These Movies To Your Watch List

The weekend may feel too far away, but if you're lacking formal plans, a Netflix marathon session is always a good idea. If you're an avid viewer, however, you probably feel like you've seen everything the streaming platform has to offer already. In …
By Ashley Rey

Hillary Clinton Says She's Ready To Fight Like A Republican — EXCLUSIVE

Hillary Clinton Is Not Going Away Quietly. Can Hillary Clinton Please Go Quietly Into The Night? Unlike Losers Before Her, Clinton Is Not Going Gently Into the Night. These headlines, which appeared in various news outlets over the course of the last…
By Catherine Thompson and Jenny Hollander

Here's The Very Best Time To Book Your Summer Vacation If You're Trying To Save Money

Summer is a great time to travel, for obvious reasons. The weather is better. Many offices are more lax about time off. If you have kids, they’re out of school. But there’s one very important element that makes summer not a great time to travel: Cost…
By Emma McGowan