Alcohol and Antibiotics

The most sensible thing for any person to do while taking antibiotics for treating any infection is to desist from drinking alcohol because of the unknown side effects that the alcohol and antibiotics might cause. However, most antibiotics do not cause any major problems if the person taking them consumes alcohol in an extremely moderate amount. Even so, some of the antibiotics such as metronidazole, and tinidazole can cause a wide range of serious side effects if combined alcohol.

These side effects include breathlessness, nausea, chest pain, headaches, lightheadedness, skin flushing, and irregular heartbeats among others. Thus, alcohol and antibiotics cannot go together in case these specific medications.

Some of the other antibiotics such as doxycycline and erythromycin can also interact with alcohol and produce some of the aforementioned side effects. Moreover, if any of the antibiotics already causes nausea or drowsiness, then alcohol can easily exacerbate that condition. Thus, the best choice while following a course of antibiotics medication is to completely abstain from taking together antibiotics and alcohol. Moreover, consulting the general physician or the pharmacist about taking the antibiotics and alcohol, can help in gaining a clear insight into the type of side effects that alcohol and antibiotics of various families are likely to produce.

Below are some of the known effects of taking alcohol and antibiotics for some of the common types of antibiotics:

  • Amoxicillin and Alcohol

Amoxicillin is a Penicillin based antibiotics, which does not have any known interactions with alcohol. However, the best time to take any antibiotics is on an empty stomach, and people would do well to drink alcohol quite a while after having taken this medication. Moreover, amoxicillin produce common side effects such as diarrhea and nausea, which are common for people experiencing alcohol overdose as well. Therefore, it can get quite difficult to distinguish between the side effects of amoxicillin and alcohol. However, the best choice is to give alcohol as wide a berth as possible while recovering from an infection and avoid taking amoxicillin and alcohol together.

  • Ciprofloxacin and Alcohol

Ciprofloxacin is an extremely common antibiotic drug, which physicians prescribe for treating bacterial infections that are not responding to treatment with other classes of antibiotics, and as a one off treatment for gonorrhea as well. Thus far, no scientific studies have indicated that there are likely serious repercussions of drinking alcohol while taking this antibiotic medication. However, the side effects of ciprofloxacin such as headaches, dizziness, and fatigue are suspiciously similar to that caused by heavy consumption of alcohol. Therefore, ciprofloxacin and alcohol can exacerbate the side effects they cause to the person consuming any of them, while alcohol can also interfere with the efficacy of the drug. So it’s recommended not to take ciprofloxacin and alcohol together.

  • Augmentin and Alcohol

Augmentin falls under the penicillin group of antibiotics and consists of a mixture of amoxicillin and clavulanate potassium. It is often prescribed for fighting bacterial infections resistant to regular penicillin. Augmentin can cause side effects that are common with the penicillin and amoxicillin group of antibiotics such as diarrhea, nausea, and dizziness. However, alcohol does not have any proven interactions with augmentin. Even so, the combination of augmentin and alcohol is not likely to be good for the health of the person concerned because it the side effects both produce are similar, and can quite easily become worse under their combined influence. Hence Augmentin and alcohol are not ideal together.

  • Metronidazole and Alcohol

Metronidazole is a highly popular antibiotic drug for treating bacterial infections in various parts of the body. However, it is highly unadvisable to sip even a drop of alcohol during the course of the medication, and three days afterwards. This is because a combination of metronidazole and alcohol can cause a range of severe side effects which include increase in heart rate, nausea, vomiting, a tingly feeling under the skin, as well as, warmth and redness under the skin. Therefore, it is essential that a person following a course of this antibiotic drug stay sober to avoid suffering from the metronidazole and alcohol side effects, while not compromising with the efficacy of this drug as well.

  • Azithromycin and Alcohol

Azithromycin is a macrolide antibiotic, which is a common choice for treating a number of different bacterial infections. People drinking alcohol while continuing with a course of azithromycin usually does not interfere in any way with its efficacy. However, the common side effects caused by this antibiotic drug such as nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea, and headache can get exacerbated under the influence of alcohol. In fact, some of this can also be similar to what one might experience after a night of binge drinking. Thus, combining azithromycin and alcohol is not a good idea because a hangover can make the azithromycin and alcohol side effects unbearable.

  • Cephalexin and Alcohol

The interactions between alcohol and cephalexin, which is a common antibiotic prescribed for treating bacterial infections, is not severe enough to warrant a rescheduling of the drug in people who are regular drinkers. However, alcohol consumption can exacerbate the common side effects of this antibiotic such as dizziness and disorientation. Those who are feeling disoriented after taking this medication ought to desist from drinking alcohol and cephalexin, at least during the duration of their course. Moreover, alcohol can impair liver function, which is likely to make the metabolism of the drug take longer, and the side effects are going to persist for a greater duration than normal. Thus, cephalexin and alcohol are not the best of matches.

  • Doxycycline and Alcohol

Doxycycline, a common antibacterial medication under the tetracycline class of antibiotics, and does not have any active interactions with alcohol. However, combining doxycycline and alcohol is not such a good idea because of the ease with which the latter can exacerbate many of the side effects caused by the former. Thus, dizziness, headaches, blurry vision, and diarrhea can become much severe under the influence of alcohol and doxycycline. Moreover, alcohol impedes liver function, and this can lead to a delay in the time taken by the body to clear the system of this antibiotic. Thus, a person taking doxycycline and alcohol is likely to experience the side effects of doxycycline longer than their sober counterparts are.

  • Penicillin and Alcohol

Penicillin is the oldest and among the most popular of the classes of antibiotic drugs that are in use today and it does not have any significant interactions with alcohol. Thus, it is possible to enjoy a drink or two while following a course of this drug. However, alcohol can quite easily exacerbate the side effects commonly seen in people taking penicillin and alcohol such as diarrhea and nausea. Thus, it is never a good idea to combine penicillin and alcohol, or keep drinking to a bare minimum while taking this medication to minimize its effects.

Overall, taking alcohol and antibiotics together has been known to amplify the sides effects of various antibiotics, so always consult your GP or local pharmacist before taking alcohol and antibiotics together.

Updated on: November 2015
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