DEAR DR. DONOHUE: The news that two beers a day is good for a person has been received with relish in my home. If two are good, four to seven plus must be better. My husband has adopted that stance. He doesn’t sleep well. He can guzzle three to four beers in an hour. He gets angry if anyone says something about the amount he drinks. The amount he drinks is increasing. He has to take antacids all the time.

Does body size change the amount one can drink? How many times a week should one drink? How long between drinks? If one drinks only beer, does that mean he can drink more? How many light beers equal one regular beer? Do beer and ale have the same amount of alcohol? – F.L.

ANSWER:
Men age 65 and younger can safely drink two drinks a day, every day. Older men and women of any age should limit themselves to one drink a day. One drink is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor.

Body size figures into how much alcohol a person can handle. The above recommendations are made for a person of average build. Very large people could drink slightly more.

It takes 60 to 90 minutes for the body to metabolize one drink. So, an hour to an hour and a half is a prudent interval between drinks. If a person drinks more in that interval, blood alcohol levels rise, and that person’s mental function, judgment, coordination and reaction time suffer.

People can drink a larger volume of beer because it has less alcohol. That’s why 12 ounces of beer equals one drink, while only 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor is one drink. People who drink only beer can become as addicted to alcohol as people who drink only wine or liquor.

Light beer has slightly less calories than regular beer, but it has roughly the same amount of alcohol. Beer and ale have equivalent amounts of alcohol.

Drinkers who consume increasing quantities of alcohol show they have developed a tolerance to it and are in danger of addiction. Alcohol can foster heartburn and the need for antacids. Becoming angry at the mention of a person’s alcohol intake is a sign of alcoholism.

If your husband doesn’t take matters in hand, he’s at risk of permanent liver, heart, brain and nerve injury.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I am in my 70s, and my wife is 20 years younger. For nearly 10 years, we have not had sexual relations. When I ask why, she brushes me off with “woman’s problems.”

I have had the patience of Job, but this brother-sister scenario has me hating the virtuous couch. I would appreciate your comments. – F.B.

ANSWER: Ask your wife to be more specific about “woman’s problems,” or ask to go with her to her doctor and sit in on their discussion of her problem. If she has a physical problem, ask if it can be fixed.

If it’s a psychological problem, ask for a referral to a competent therapist and insist that she see that person soon.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: Do certain foods give you a headache after you eat them? I am a 17-year-old male, and each time I eat popcorn at the movie theater, I get a headache. My dad tells me that it is probably the smell, but I don’t think so. I want to know if foods can bring on headaches. – M.V.

ANSWER:
Some foods can give rise to migraine headaches. On the list are chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, aged cheeses, red wine, beer and preserved meats, like hot dogs and salami.

The cause-and-effect of food on other headaches is less clear, although I know many people who say certain foods act as a headache trigger for them. I believe these people.

Some authorities feel that chocolate, caffeine, alcohol and salt can act as headache triggers for people. The next time you order popcorn, hold the salt and let me know the result.

Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Readers may also order health newsletters from www.rbmamall.com.


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