Now that you’ve started taking Viagra (also known by its generic name sildenafil), did you know that the said erectile dysfunction (ED) drug should not be taken with some substances, say, sildenafil and alcohol?
Yes, a particular food, beverages, and drugs such as burger, wine, and heart medications can trigger adverse effects when taken with Viagra. Some may only increase common sildenafil side effects, while others may cause death.
But don’t worry; with proper caution and adequate knowledge, you can take Viagra without compromising your safety.
First, let’s learn about interactions that can affect how sildenafil performs in the body.
There are three kinds of sildenafil interactions:
- Drug-drug interaction, wherein a substance changes the activity of a drug, either increasing or decreasing its effects or creating a new impact on your body.
- Food-drug interaction, wherein substances present in the food and the drug may alter the body’s ability to utilize a particular food or medicine, which can lead to serious side effects.
- Disease-drug interaction, wherein the drug triggers and worsens pre-existing diseases.
These three must be taken into consideration when taking Viagra (1,2).
Risky Combinations: Not Just Sildenafil and Alcohol
Based on the kinds of interactions above, there are certain substances that you should avoid when taking Viagra. Do consult your doctor before trying any of the following combinations:
#1. Sildenafil and Grapefruit
Consuming grapefruit may increase the side effects of Viagra.
According to studies, grapefruit increases sildenafil bioavailability and tends to delay absorption (3). Having an excessively high amount of the little blue pill’s active ingredient in your bloodstream puts you at risk of side effects.
While sildenafil and grapefruit will not endanger you, it is advisable to avoid this combination. This includes grapefruit juice and other grapefruit products. If you need to drink a citrus beverage, you may opt for alternatives such as orange juice.
If your doctor advises you to take grapefruit for whatever medical reason, let him know that you’re using Viagra and discuss its possible effects.
#2. Sildenafil and Fatty Meals
Eating high-fat meals before taking your ED medication affects how long it takes for sildenafil to take effect.
It’s been discovered that the consumption of fatty foods such as steak, cheeseburger, and French fries slows down the absorption of many ED drugs, including Viagra (4).
It is advised to avoid fatty meals before you have your dose of Viagra. If this can’t be avoided, you should eat high-fat meals at least a couple of hours before taking the medication. This way, you will already have digested the food so your body will absorb the drug much quicker.
#3. Sildenafil and Alcoholic Drinks
Taking these two at the same time may lower your blood pressure, which can lead to a decreased performance in bed.
Viagra and alcohol are known to cause orthostatic hypotension. This happens when a drop in blood pressure occurs when you suddenly shift your position (e.g., from sitting or lying down to standing).
This increases the risk of common sildenafil side effects such as dizziness, headache, light-headedness, heart palpitations, and fainting—more than enough to ruin a romantic night.
To avoid the abovementioned risks, limit your alcohol intake. It’s safe to take 2 to 3 units of alcohol if you cannot avoid it.
#4. Sildenafil and Nitrates
Viagra, when taken with organic nitrates, can and has caused death among men (5).
Nitrates are substances present in heart medications. Taking these with impotence drugs can lower your blood pressure to dangerous levels. This may cause a heart attack or stroke, especially if you have heart disease.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) together with Pfizer, Viagra’s manufacturer, has warned against the use of ED drugs together with heart medications.
#5. Sildenafil and Other Drugs
As previously stated, drug-drug interactions can have various effects on your body. Aside from nitrates, common medications that may affect Viagra’s performance are listed below:
- HIV medicines
- Herbal remedies
- Hepatitis medications
- Epilepsy medications
- Cystic fibrosis medications
- Blood thinners
- Other ED medications
While the above isn’t associated with the most severe adverse reactions, it is always best to consult your doctor regarding the drugs you’re taking. Disclose all your prescriptions and discuss potential interaction risks.
Sildenafil and Pre-Existing Conditions
Taking Viagra may also trigger certain medical conditions pre-existing in your body. Some men who have taken the ED drug have reported experiencing the following.
- Vision Loss
There were reported cases of men suddenly losing their vision after taking ED medications. Sudden vision loss can also be a sign that you may have nonarteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION), a severe eye problem. If this happens, seek medical help immediately.
- Hearing Loss
The FDA has identified at least 29 cases of men who have had sudden hearing loss after taking various ED medications. The agency advice to stop using Viagra and other anti-impotence drugs if you experience sudden hearing loss.
While the above cases are rare, it is best to observe caution when taking ED medications. This is also the reason why we encourage everyone interested in taking the little blue pill to visit a doctor before taking a single dose.
While purchasing sildenafil requires a prescription in most places, there are workarounds that make the drug much more accessible. Although there’s a benefit in convenience, there’s a risk in bypassing the need for a prescription.
Viagra, Alcohol, and Others
Viagra has proven to be an effective drug to treat ED. Many have had better and more satisfying sex after taking the said medication.
However, you should still be cautious about what you take with this ED drug. Alcohol, high-fat meals, nitrates, and the abovementioned substances are only a few of what might worsen side effects and cause other health issues.
Keep on the lookout for other possible things that may impact your health when taking Viagra, but don’t let it kill the fun. With proper caution and adequate knowledge, there is no need to worry too much about safety.
Leave us a comment if you have other questions regarding sildenafil and alcohol or any other topic. We’d be glad to help you out with your concerns regarding the little blue pill.