Author: Charles Frank

Antibiotics and Alcohol: Can You Drink on Antibiotics?

can you drink on antibiotics

One of the side effects of drinking alcohol can be dehydration, which can make it harder for you to get well. Disulfiram-like reaction which may include abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, headaches, flushing, or rarely more serious reactions. Excessive alcohol use is well-known to cause liver damage like cirrhosis. Taking antibiotics that can also damage the liver may worsen these types of problems.

Once you’ve completed your course of antibiotics, taken as directed, it will be safer to consume alcoholic beverages again. Nitroimidazoles, including metronidazole, tinidazole, and secnidazole, are often used for parasitic or anaerobic bacterial infections. In 2020, pharmacists at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs in New York published a study examining the data regarding alcohol use with certain classes of antibiotics. Some types were deemed safe to use with alcohol, while others were not.

can you drink on antibiotics

Drinking these beverages with this medication can cause a dangerous increase in blood pressure. Generally, it’s best to practice caution and speak with a healthcare provider about drinking alcohol while on these antibiotics. The types of drugs in this class of broad-spectrum antibiotics are tetracycline, doxycycline, minocycline, and tigecycline. They are commonly used for bacterial respiratory tract infections, like pneumonia, and some infections of the eyes, skin, and digestive system. They may even be used for diseases spread to humans from animals or insects or to treat food poisoning in people who cannot use penicillin. The risks of drinking alcohol are lower with some types of antibiotics.

It can cause nausea, dizziness, headache, chest and abdominal discomfort, flushing, vomiting, and hangover-like symptoms. A 2020 review shows a lack of solid evidence behind how common this is, but caution is still warranted. According to a 2020 review, consuming penicillin and alcohol likely won’t produce side effects for most people. However, while alcohol appears to slow the rate of penicillin absorption it does not prevent how much of the drug is ultimately absorbed. However, potential consequences can range from mild to severe and even life-threatening if alcohol and certain antibiotics are used simultaneously. Scientists have linked heavy and binge drinking with an impaired immune system.

Alcohol, Antibiotics, and Healing: What Happens?

People with an impaired immune system have a higher risk of infection. Metronidazole is a nitroimidazole antibiotic that doctors prescribe to treat abdominal infections, sexually transmitted infections, and other anaerobic bacteria-related infections. Mixing alcohol with fluoroquinolone antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin may increase these mental health side effects. People deficient in folic acid may be at risk of further reducing their folic acid levels while taking trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole. People who regularly drink alcohol may have lower levels of folic acid and should use trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole with caution. Nouhavandi says this is partly because when you’re sick, you need to be properly hydrated.

Since having alcohol in your system can also cause these symptoms on its own, using both antibiotics and alcohol together increases your risk of these side effects. Alcohol doesn’t make most antibiotics less effective, but consuming alcohol — especially if you drink too much — might increase your chance of experiencing certain side effects. The biggest concern is that consuming alcohol with medications might increase the risk of unsafe side effects. Combining alcohol and antibiotics can increase your chance of developing side effects. It’s best to wait until you’re done with your antibiotic course before you have an alcoholic drink.

However, most antibiotics don’t usually affect the central nervous system in this way. Some antibiotics, like Rifadin (rifampin), carry a risk of liver damage, especially if you already have liver problems. Since drinking heavily can also damage your liver, it makes sense not to combine the two.

Mixing alcohol and some antibiotics may cause side effects like liver problems or a “disulfiram-like reaction”. Some antibiotics cannot be taken with alcohol at all, so follow your healthcare provider’s instructions. For any of these antibiotics, the effects are not only limited to beer, wine, or alcoholic beverages.

Metronidazole, tinidazole, cefotetan, cefoperazone, and ketoconazole

It is important to tell your doctor about all other medications you use, including vitamins and herbs. See the Drug Interactions Checker to review drug combinations which may lead to serious interactions. May occur with some other cephalosporin antibiotics, check with your doctor or pharmacist.

  1. Antibiotics and alcohol consumption may both cause digestive symptoms for some people.
  2. Data sources include Micromedex (updated 3 Mar 2024), Cerner Multum™ (updated 4 Mar 2024), ASHP (updated 12 Feb 2024) and others.
  3. You are much more likely to have problems with impaired antibiotic effectiveness, slowed healing, or worsened side effects if you drink excessively.

For some side effects, like a disulfiram-like reaction, you might have a problem when drinking only a little bit of alcohol while on your antibiotic. This might even include over-the-counter products like mouthwash or cough syrup. For example, if you already have ongoing liver problems, it may be more important to avoid alcohol while taking certain antibiotics. Also, if you are very unwell, it makes sense to completely avoid alcohol for the time being. For example, different pharmacies often include conflicting information about the safety of using alcohol with specific antibiotics. You may also find conflicting information from internet sources on the use of these drugs.

Can You Drink Alcohol with Antibiotics?

Consuming alcohol regularly can affect how well your immune system can handle threats. Mixing alcohol with these antibiotics can result in the delayed clearance of the antibiotics. That’s because when alcohol is consumed, the liver prioritizes metabolizing the alcohol. Ketoconazole is an antifungal that may be used to treat topical infections like athlete’s foot, ringworm, and others. If you consume both at the same time, it can be harder to distinguish which is causing your symptoms. Our physicians can prescribe antibiotics for various conditions, but only if necessary.

For example, alcohol may decrease your body’s defense against respiratory infections by allowing bacteria to more effectively replicate in your respiratory system. Ask your doctor or pharmacist what you need to avoid while taking antibiotics. It may also influence how effective the dose is, and the bacterial response to treatment. Nitroimidazole antimicrobials are a class of antibiotics that stop bacterial growth. Like other medications, patients can be allergic to certain classes of antibiotics. Therefore if you are diagnosed with a viral infection, your doctor will not recommend antibiotics unless you have a secondary bacterial infection in addition.

This may delay the absorption of the antibiotic into the bloodstream and lower the antibiotic effect. Inhibition of aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) by the antibiotic may result in an increased concentration of acetaldehyde leading to an unpleasant response.

Not only can they interfere with the way the antibiotics work, but they can also cause a number of harmful side effects. An occasional drink with fluoroquinolone can be safe, but regularly drinking alcohol may cause central nervous system side effects. They should also avoid other foods that contain tyramine, such as strong cheeses and smoked meats.

While robust data are lacking, recent studies have determined that alcohol may be used moderately and cautiously when taking tetracyclines. Oxazolidinones may be used for certain infections, such as osteomyelitis, an infection in the bones, or endocarditis, an infection of the inner lining of the heart muscle. Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole can affect the metabolism of folic acid in bacteria.

General side effects

Like many types of antibiotics, alcohol is broken down and processed by your liver before it can exit your body. When your liver is already working to help fight infection, adding alcohol to the mix can overwork it. In rare cases, this can cause drug-induced liver toxicity (swelling of your liver). Alcohol consumption won’t directly impact how effective your antibiotics are. But, drinking alcohol can mean that it takes your body longer to recover from whatever infection or illness you are taking antibiotics for in the first place. For example, doxycycline (Vibramycin, Monodox) and amoxicillin (Amoxil) are known to frequently cause digestive problems, says Nouhavandi.