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By Boris M | 19 May, 2020 Published in Guides
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Today, we are fortunate that many ailments that troubled our ancestors can simply be solved by a diagnosis and a prescription. Modern medicine steadily finds a way to deal with painful symptoms, from headaches to stomach pain, to mental illnesses.

While medications are intended to improve our lives, taking them incorrectly can, in turn, cause more harm than good.

Meloxicam, a drug usually prescribed to patients suffering from inflammation or joint pain, is no different. If taken in excess or simultaneously with alcohol or another medication, it could have detrimental effects on the user’s health.

What is meloxicam and what does it treat?

Meloxicam is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) often given to patients with arthritis, osteoarthritis, tenderness, and swelling caused by inflammation, and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. It works by inhibiting the enzymes that lead to inflammation. [1]

How dangerous is meloxicam?

Meloxicam is a type of NSAID, which are known to increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. Meloxicam may also negatively impact gut health, leading to ulcers, bleeding, or perforation in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. These potentially fatal incidents can occur at any time while taking meloxicam. [2]

Risks of alcohol intake for patients with arthritis

Shaowei Wu et al. published a study in 2015 providing evidence that excessive alcohol intake was associated with an increased risk of incidental Psoriasis arthritis in women. [3] Alcohol is also known to trigger gout attacks and pain flare-ups in arthritic patients.

Many studies have proven that alcohol pairs poorly with medications used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, namely NSAIDs. Because alcohol itself weakens the gut, drinking while taking meloxicam increases this risk substantially. [4]

Side effects of meloxicam

Side effects vary when taking meloxicam, but not all require medical attention. The most common of these are gas, heartburn, diarrhoea, and indigestion. They will occur and subside as the body becomes familiar with the medication.

Less common side effects can include, but are not limited to:

  • Anxiety
  • Feeling bloated
  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Hair loss
  • Hot flashes
  • Irritability
  • Trouble concentrating

Aside from these side effects, meloxicam can cause some troubling complications during treatment. There are some grave side effects when taking meloxicam that does require immediate medical attention. These include:

  • Bleeding gums
  • Canker sores
  • Cloudy urine
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling tired and weak
  • Hives or welts
  • Loss of appetite
  • Noisy breathing
  • Seizures
  • Skin blisters

How long does it take for meloxicam to take effect?

Most patients notice a difference in relief within two weeks of treatment. If your pain persists after two weeks, consult your doctor.

Because of how dangerous combining alcohol and meloxicam can be, patients should wait until meloxicam has completely cleared the system before consuming even one drink. Meloxicam can remain in the body for up to 24 hours. Therefore, patients wishing to enjoy a drink should wait a full day before consuming alcohol. Even then, only one drink per day is recommended while taking NSAIDs.

Is drinking alcohol banned while taking meloxicam?

Alcohol use is absolutely banned while taking meloxicam or any NSAID. Doctors strongly advise against consuming alcohol on meloxicam treatment.

Combining these substances greatly increases the risk of issues in the GI tract, especially GI bleeding. [5]

Can I have one glass of wine while taking meloxicam?

Your doctor will recommend that you abstain from any type of alcohol while on meloxicam. Nevertheless, if you find that you cannot avoid drinking wine, limit your intake as much as possible. Wait 24 hours after your last dose of meloxicam before drinking.

One way to soften the impact of wine is to eat while you drink. You may not experience severe adverse symptoms from one drink, but excessive drinking increases your risk of GI tract complications.

Short-term symptoms of drinking alcohol while taking meloxicam

The most life-threatening symptoms of consuming alcohol while taking meloxicam are ulcers and bleeding in the stomach and intestines. This can occur at any time without warning during treatment. [6]

Other short-term symptoms include:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhoea
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain

As mentioned, consuming alcohol on meloxicam treatment can lead to many health issues. Below we discuss the most severe side-effects of consuming alcohol while taking meloxicam:

Alcohol consumption alone can cause inflammation in the upper GI tract and the liver. [7] When taken with meloxicam, you can do significant damage to the GI tract. This leads to bleeding or ulcers in the GI tract.

Alcohol can damage gut flora and the lining of the stomach. [8] Adding meloxicam can lead to ulcers, tears, and bleeding in the stomach.

This also disrupts the body's ability to absorb nutrients, which could lead to a deficiency in the crucial vitamin B12.

Consuming alcohol can cause flare-ups of gout and joint pain. This cancels out the relief meloxicam is supposed to bring for gout patients. Mixing alcohol and meloxicam may actually worsen swelling and inflammation in the affected joints.

Alcohol can also cause issues for normal heart functioning, leading to possible heart failure for regular binge drinkers. Since taking meloxicam places the heart at risk, as well as increasing the risk of stroke, combining it with alcohol can lead to heart failure.

Stop taking both immediately if you experience chest pains, shortness of breath, pain in the left arm or side of the body, weakness, and other signs of a heart attack.

Other medications meloxicam interacts with

Besides alcohol, meloxicam can adversely interact with other medications. Let your doctor know if you are currently on any prescriptions before you begin meloxicam treatment.

Below is a list of some of the medications that interact with meloxicam:

  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors: increases risk of kidney problems
  • Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs): increases risk of kidney problems
  • Beta-blockers: interferes with the beta blocker’s ability to lower blood pressure
  • Bile Acid Sequestrants: can prevent meloxicam from being properly absorbed by the digestive tract
  • Corticosteroids: increases risk of bleeding
  • Cyclosporine: increases levels of cyclosporine in the blood, leading to adverse side effects
  • Digoxin: increases levels of digoxin in the blood, leading to adverse side effects
  • Diuretics: increases the risk of kidney problems
  • Lithium: prevents the kidneys from eliminating lithium, increasing levels of lithium in the body
  • Blood thinners: increases risk of internal bleeding
  • Methotrexate: increases risk of methotrexate toxicity
  • Probenecid: increases levels of meloxicam in blood, leading to adverse side effects
  • Sodium polystyrene Sulfonate: increases risk of intestinal necrosis
  • SSRIs or SNRIs: increases risk of bleeding

Meloxicam can also interact with herbal treatments like ginger, fish oil supplements, garlic, and St. John’s word. Always be transparent with your doctor before taking meloxicam. [9]

Meloxicam and substance abuse, and polydrug abuse

Because meloxicam is a painkiller, many suffering from substance abuse mistakenly believe it contains opioids with the hopes of getting a high from it. However, meloxicam does not contain opioids and does not confer a high. Overdosing on NSAIDs can have serious consequences for the GI tract and heart health.

People with a history of substance abuse are very likely to consume several types of medications at once, including alcohol and tobacco. These substances can have fatal consequences when mixed with meloxicam.

If you or anyone you know has been mixing meloxicam with other drugs, stop use immediately and consult your doctor for medical assistance.

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References

[1] https://www.drugs.com/meloxicam.html

[2] https://www.drugs.com/sfx/meloxicam-side-effects.html

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4600066/

[4] https://www.news-medical.net/health/Does-Drinking-Alcohol-Cause-Joint-Pain-in-Arthritis.aspx

[5] https://www.aafp.org/afp/2000/0501/p2863.html

[6] https://www.verywellhealth.com/alcohol-and-arthritis-medications-189137

[7] https://www.arcr.niaaa.nih.gov/arcr382/article01.htm

[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6826790/

[9] http://pain.emedtv.com/meloxicam/drug-interactions-with-meloxicam.html