Saying Adios to Sangria: When Alcohol Triggers Pain
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Maybe it’s the Portuguese in me, but I love sangria. While I don’t care too much for most alcoholic drinks, there’s something about sangria that sets it apart. It’s just so refreshing, and there are so many ways to put a different spin on it. But, as much as I would love to be able to have a small glass of sangria with dinner more often, it’s something that often ends up being a rare treat. Many people find that certain foods can trigger psoriatic arthritis flares; sangria ended up being one of mine.

A trigger for some, but not all

I’ve heard through word of mouth that alcohol makes some people with arthritis flare. However, I know a lot of people with arthritis and a lot of them aren’t affected by it. Lucky me, last year I found alcohol is one of my flare triggers. When I turned 21, I was excited to be able to go to the bar with friends and join in the fun. While from the beginning I decided to drink in moderation for personal reasons, a month into regularly having drinks with meals I noticed a new pattern of joint pain. The morning after having a drink or two, my joints would be especially stiff and achy.

Why me?

It’s so aggravating to know that psoriatic arthritis prevents me from enjoying yet another thing! There are so many things that set me apart from other kids my age, but why this? Of course, you don’t have to drink to have a good time, but that’s not the point. The point is that occasionally I would like to enjoy a sweet treat without paying for it later. While other kids my age worry about a bad hangover in the morning after a party, I get to decide whether a small glass of wine is worth a flare.

It’s not so bad

Even though it was upsetting to make the connection that alcohol makes me flare, my friends tried to remind me of all the positives. Naturally, I’d never have to worry about hangovers and I’d always be a safe driver. Not drinking would also help save a ton of money. Plus, there was no possibility of getting a beer belly or wine-stained teeth. And I’d be able to take NSAIDs like ibuprofen without worrying about liver damage. While it doesn’t seem like much, those points did help me feel better.

Learning to compromise

Of course, sometimes I just want to treat myself. There are lots of times you simply want a small drink, whether it’s to celebrate a special occasion or girls night out. Sometimes I’ll split a drink with a friend so I can still have some (really, two sips). And I’ve experimented with sangria recipes using a reduced alcohol content, which is a great treat. But more often than not, I do abstain. While it’s disappointing, I’d rather be with my friends or enjoying a good meal without thinking about the flare I might wake up with in the morning. At the end of the day, life is better focusing on the positives and small joys than dwelling on the negatives.

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