Author: James Anderson

Is it safe to mix antibiotics and alcohol? Safety, effects, and types

antibiotics while drinking

There are plenty of beverages that you can enjoy while taking antibiotics without worrying about how they might interact with your treatment. However, potential consequences can range from mild to severe and even life-threatening if alcohol and certain antibiotics are used simultaneously. There are several antibiotics that people should not mix alcohol with.

antibiotics while drinking

Some types were deemed safe to use with alcohol, while others were not. 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. People should avoid or limit their alcohol consumption while taking doxycycline. Alcohol can affect this antibiotic, and it may be less effective for people with a history of excessive drinking or those with alcohol use disorder (AUD). Nausea is a common side effect of antibiotics, and drinking alcohol may worsen this symptom in some people.

Do you always need to avoid alcohol with antibiotics?

Check the inactive ingredient listing on the OTC “Drug Facts” label to determine if alcohol (also called ethanol) is present in the product, or you can always ask your doctor or pharmacist. 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. When alcohol is combined with antibiotics that also have a CNS depressant effect, additive effects may occur. In many cases, you only need to take antibiotics for a week or two to fully recover from an infection. Combining these antibiotics and alcohol can cause a potentially dangerous reaction.

It is common to see “Avoid Alcohol” stickers on prescription bottles. It’s important to check with your doctor or pharmacist before you mix alcohol with an antibiotic as this might be dangerous for your liver or cause other reactions. 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. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you’re unsure about the details of your medications.

  1. Rarely, more severe reactions may include abnormal heart rhythm, heart attack, heart failure, unconsciousness, convulsions, and even death.
  2. Once you’ve completed your course of antibiotics, taken as directed, it will be safer to consume alcoholic beverages again.
  3. Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.
  4. Most antibiotics are prescribed on a short-term basis, and it is best to temporarily avoid alcohol until you are no longer taking your medication.

By Lauren Panoff, MPH, RDLauren Panoff, MPH, RD, is a plant-based dietitian, writer, and speaker who specializes in helping people bring more plants to their plate. She’s a highly respected writer in the health and nutrition space and loves talking about the power of diet. Lauren aims to connect people with the information and resources to live their healthiest, fullest life.

Since alcohol can also have negative effects on the liver, people should avoid mixing alcohol with minocycline. Although nausea is a common side effect of both antibiotics and alcohol, not all people will experience this when using both at the same time. It is not safe to mix some types of antibiotics, such as tetracyclines and nitroimidazoles, with alcohol. This can cause dangerous side effects or make them less effective at removing bacteria. If you choose to drink alcohol while taking an antibiotic, check on the safety with your doctor or pharmacist first.

What are the different types of antibiotics?

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances. Rarely, more severe reactions may include abnormal heart rhythm, heart attack, heart failure, unconsciousness, convulsions, and even death. Check the ingredient labels on these and other products if you’ve had an alcohol-antibiotic reaction in the past. Ask your doctor if it’s safe for you to use these products while you take an antibiotic. Always seek medical attention if you experience symptoms that feel out of the ordinary or are concerning. According to a 2020 review, consuming penicillin and alcohol likely won’t produce side effects for most people.

antibiotics while drinking

Mixing moderate amounts of alcohol with an antibiotic will not usually lower your antibiotic’s effectiveness. Keep in mind that antibiotics are often prescribed on a short-term basis. Consider waiting until you’re off the medications to have your next drink. It may reduce the chance of complications or side effects brought on by antibiotics. Both alcohol and antibiotics can cause side effects in your body, and drinking alcohol while taking antibiotics can raise your risk of these harmful effects.

General side effects

Antibiotics are only effective against bacterial infections, not viral infections. Taking antibiotics such as metronidazole and tinidazole while consuming alcohol can cause several unwanted and potentially dangerous side effects, such as liver damage and seizures. Physicians prescribe sulfonamide antibiotics to treat urinary, respiratory, and abdominal infections.

However, while alcohol appears to slow the rate of penicillin absorption it does not prevent how much of the drug is ultimately absorbed. Alcohol interferes with some antibiotics in different ways, which may alter the effectiveness or side effects. If you need to avoid alcohol, check all of your food and medicine labels to be sure they don’t contain alcohol. Drinking alcohol while taking these antibiotics may make them less effective.

You may need to wait at least 48 to 72 hours after finishing your course of antibiotics before consuming alcohol. Some antibiotics do not interact with alcohol intake, but others do. Antibiotics and alcohol consumption may both cause digestive symptoms for some people. A healthcare provider may prescribe one of several types of antibiotics, depending on the infection and your health history. When prescribing antibiotics, a healthcare provider often will discuss whether it’s OK to consume alcohol while taking them.

While robust data are lacking, recent studies have determined that alcohol may be used moderately and cautiously when taking tetracyclines. Alcohol appears to lead to slowed “gastric emptying” when combined with erythromycin ethylsuccinate. This may delay the absorption of the antibiotic into the bloodstream and lower the antibiotic effect. Alcohol may also increase some of the central nervous system (CNS) side effects such as weakness, dizziness, or drowsiness. Alcohol may also increase some of the central nervous system (CNS) side effects such as dizziness, drowsiness, and difficulty concentrating. Inhibition of aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) by the antibiotic may result in an increased concentration of acetaldehyde leading to an unpleasant response.