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Alcohol Intolerance in Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

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Updated June 30, 2014

Alcohol Intolerance in Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

How have you changed your alcohol consumption since you started living with fibromyalgia (FMS) and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS or ME/CFS)?

Notice I didn't ask whether you'd changed it, just how. That's because most of us discover that we just can't handle alcohol like we used to. During the holidays, it's harder not to enjoy a drink now and then - a glass of wine with Thanksgiving dinner, a champagne toast, or a beer to unwind after shopping. As with so many other things, the key is knowing your body and your limits. Some of us can handle a drink or two OK, while some can't handle any at all.

So far, this aspect of our conditions hasn't gotten a lot of attention from researchers, so we don't know why we tend to develop alcohol intolerance. What we do know about alcohol, in general, is:

  • It's a toxin, and we don't deal with toxins well.
  • It has an inflammatory effect on your body, and inflammation can increase pain as well as reduce blood flow to tissues.
  • It disrupts sleep patterns.
  • It's a depressant.

These are all good reasons to stay within your limits. If you do choose to drink, do what you can to mitigate the negative effects:

  • Think moderation!
  • Stay well hydrated.
  • Take an anti-inflammatory.
  • Give yourself extra time to sleep and recover.
  • Be aware of how it may interact with your meds, and don't combine it with pain killers.

How has your illness impacted your alcohol tolerance? Share your experiences here, or in About.com's Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome community forum (under Newsletter & Blog topics.)

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