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Is it safe to take prednisone and alcohol together?

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Prednisone and alcoholSide effectsHow much alcohol can I drink?What to avoidSummary
It can be a good idea to limit your alcohol when taking prednisone, as both substances can suppress your immune system. Alcohol can also increase the side effects of prednisone.
Medically reviewed by Philip Ngo, PharmD
Written by D. M. Pollock
Updated on

Prednisone is a prescription medication that helps to balance your hormones. It belongs to the corticosteroid group of medications that help treat conditions like asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.

It is a strong anti-inflammatory medication that suppresses your immune system, reducing swelling and irritation.  

While prednisone can be beneficial, it can also have some strong side effects, such as:

Typically, you can still enjoy small amounts of alcohol while on prednisone if you are not taking the medication for the long-term management of a health condition.

However, the effects of alcohol can enhance the side effects of prednisone. It’s important to speak with a healthcare professional first, as the combination of substances can sometimes cause problems.

Prednisone and alcohol

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Prednisone works by supplementing your body with synthetic versions of corticosteroids that you would usually produce naturally. Healthcare professionals may prescribe this medication for autoimmune health conditions such as:

This is because prednisone reduces the activity of your immune system. Brand names for prednisone include Rayos and Prednisone Intensol.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not warn you against drinking alcohol while taking prednisone, as there are no direct interactions between the two substances.

However, alcohol can worsen the side effects of prednisone, as the two substances can affect your body in similar ways.

For people with an existing health condition, drinking alcohol while taking prednisone may cause them to experience more severe side effects.

As both prednisone and alcohol suppress your immune system, taking them together can cause it to not function properly. This means drinking alcohol while you are taking prednisone can increase your risk of picking up an infection.

Combining two substances that suppress your immunity can mean your body does not show signs of infections as quickly as it usually would. This could lead to a delay in getting treatment.

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Side effects

Alcohol can enhance certain side effects of prednisone. The risk of these side effects occurring depends on several factors.

These include:

  • your dosage of prednisone
  • the length of your course of treatment
  • how much alcohol you drink
  • any existing medical conditions you may have

The potential side effects of consuming alcohol with prednisone include the following:

Stomach irritation

Both alcohol and prednisone individually irritate your stomach and digestive tract. Consuming excess alcohol can cause inflammation of the stomach lining, leading to heartburn and stomach ulcers.

Prednisone can cause short-term stomach irritation. If you also take certain over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen, there is a higher risk of developing peptic ulcers.

If you are prone to stomach irritation, it may be a good idea to avoid consuming alcohol with prednisone.

Immune suppression

As alcohol weakens your immune system, long-term consumption can make it easier to pick up life threatening infections such as pneumonia or sepsis.

Prednisone works by suppressing your immune system to reduce inflammation. This means your body may find it more difficult to deal with infectious diseases. If you have an infection while taking prednisone, you may experience more severe long-term symptoms than usual.

Regularly drinking alcohol while taking prednisone can increase your chance of catching an infectious disease.

Bone density

Taking prednisone for a long-term chronic condition may cause your bones to become more fragile and brittle. This can lead to osteoporosis, which makes your bones fragile and prone to breaking.

An older 2010 study found that drinking more than 6 alcoholic drinks a day could increase the risk of developing osteoporosis in women ages 67-90 years.

Weight gain

As alcohol is high in calories, drinking an excess amount can cause weight gain. For example, just 1 glass of wine contains 133 calories. The UK’s National Health Service recommends not regularly consuming more than 14 units a week.

Some people also experience weight gain as a long-term side effect of prednisone. So, if you are regularly drinking alcohol and taking prednisone, you may be more likely to experience weight gain.

Blood sugar changes

If you have diabetes, the effects of alcohol can cause problems. This is because alcohol causes blood sugar levels to drop, which can put you at risk of developing hypoglycemia.

Prednisone can lead to a long-term increase in your blood sugar levels. If you have diabetes and are taking prednisone, you may need more insulin or medication than usual.

How much alcohol can I drink on prednisone?

While drinking a small amount of alcohol while taking prednisone is unlikely to affect your health, talking with a doctor first will help you avoid unpleasant complications. Some circumstances may mean that you should avoid alcohol altogether while taking prednisone.

For example, if you are prone to indigestion or an upset stomach, combining the two substances may cause you discomfort. Also, if you are more than a moderate drinker and a doctor recommends a long-term course of prednisone to treat a chronic health condition, it may be a good idea to give up alcohol completely.

There are many long-term health benefits to quitting alcohol, particularly if you have a chronic illness. It is helpful to be honest with your doctor about your alcohol consumption so they can provide the best advice.  

What should I avoid while taking prednisone?

Prednisone is a strong steroid medication, so it is important to follow your doctor’s instructions when taking it.

Some of these instructions may include:

  • always taking your medication with food
  • talking with a doctor before receiving any vaccinations
  • informing a doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant
  • following any dietary instructions that a doctor gives you
  • talking with a doctor before taking herbal supplements

Prednisone can impact your overall sleep quality. Consider taking your medication in the morning or further away from bedtime to prevent any reductions in sleep quality. It may also be helpful to avoid stimulants like caffeine to prevent further sleeping problems.

If you are unsure what to avoid while taking prednisone, consider speaking to a healthcare professional who can help clarify.


Your dosage, length of treatment, and how frequently you drink alcohol will affect whether you should continue to drink while taking prednisone.

If you have other health conditions like gastrointestinal disorders, osteoporosis, or diabetes, this will also affect a doctor’s recommendation. Alcohol can worsen the side effects of prednisone and can include:

  • loss of bone density
  • a suppressed immune system
  • weight gain

If you are taking prednisone for a long-term health condition, this may be a good time to consider avoiding alcohol completely.

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