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Effect of Alcohol and Antibiotics on your course of treatment

Consuming Alcohol and Antibiotics won’t interfere with your medicine effects to counteract your condition. However, it can affect the whole process in million other ways. You should always be on the watch and monitor your overall wellbeing.

To some people, the question whether it’s allowed to combine Alcohol and Antibiotics with a treatment involving antibiotics is a pressing matter. As with many issues, the question is somewhere in-between. It’s not an overly good idea to drink while you’re on antibiotics, however all is not that simple.

When you’re unhealthy, you should provide yourself with sufficient rehabilitation and healthy food to consume. Both of those will be quite beneficial and will definitely help you recuperate from your state or disease quicker (01).

With such background alcohol looks in stark contrast and can negate those positives. It’s known negative effects include interfering with sleep patterns 02).

It is capable of depriving you from valuable healthy sleep. Alcohol is also a hurdle for the body on its way to metabolizing of all the nutritional substances. It has a nasty effect of spiking blood sugar level and exhausting body energy levels.

It dehydrates the body (remember the constant thirst during the hangover? This is where it comes from). The sum of those negatives can seriously undermine the immune resistance and therefore weaken your body’s capabilities to successfully withstand your condition and heal from it.

In simple terms, alcohol seriously directly and indirectly decreases the resistance capacities of your body (03).

You should also remember the fact that alcohol is not merely all types of drinks (04). It is also found in some food products and substances, body care products and OTC and even prescription medicines. Some of the products may contain the warning labels (“contains alcohol” or “avoid alcohol” for meds).

But a general rule is you should carefully check all the labels of each used product to make sure you know of the presence of alcohol among the ingredients. If you want to know for sure if it’s possible to apply this or that product, if a new medication is safe to be combined with alcohol – consult your doctor.

Also, you can check the Internet – for example, there is this useful tool called Drug Interactions Checker (available at to see all the drug combinations and to give a good insight.

Some medicines, namely antibiotics, have a specific and often worrying and potentially dangerous interaction with alcohol (05).

Let’s take a closer look at the antibiotics and their interaction with alcohol.

There is a separate group of medicine compounds the use of which is strongly recommended to be separated from alcohol consumption (06).

Those include:

  • Flu meds
  • Cough meds
  • Mouthwash liquids
  • Others

 How does Alcohol and Antibiotics effect on the body?

Generally, alcohol should have no effect on how well the drugs work to treat a condition, but with antibiotics the combo may lead to undesired consequences. However, in some situations level of medicine in the blood can be altered to affect its effectiveness (07).

Liver applies enzymes to reduce (metabolize, break down) alcohol. The same enzymes may employ to break down certain antibiotics. Depending on the amount you drank, changes in liver (and subsequently in enzymes) can lead to alterations in the way the medicine is metabolized by your body (08).

For instance, with body intoxication, a significant amount of alcohol is consumed, some of the enzymes are hindered, and the antibiotic has no way to be broken down as effectively as in normal conditions.

This affects the levels of the antibiotic – it is increased following not being broken down in full and subsequently excreted, which eventually causes drug intoxication (on top of alcohol intoxication) (Tamoxifen Side effects) side effects.

Vice versa, in cases of chronic alcohol abuse (i.e. alcoholism), enzyme levels may turn into “forced”, i.e. that the medicine is metabolized more quickly and efficiently and drug level in the body get lower.

Subsequently it leads to antibiotic presence in the blood decreasing, the condition is not cured, and moreover the antibiotic resistance may arise. The desired effect of treatment is not achieved.

What side effects can arise when you conjoin alcohol and antibiotics?

Among the most usual and better known reactions between an antibiotic and alcohol is the interaction with the antimicrobial nitroimidazole class compound called Metronidazole (you may know it better under its patented name of Flagyl) (09). Metronidazole is applied for the treatment of a number of infections, such as lung, intestine, gaster, joint, skin and many other body areas infections.

Drinking while administering metronidazole may result in a reaction which essentially may include accelerated heartbeat rate, strong discomfort in stomach, puking, skin reddening and warming (flushing), headaches, chest pains, nausea, shortness of breathing and some others.

A reaction equally unpleasant may be triggered by other nitroimidazole class antibiotics (Tinidazole aka Tindamax), a cephalosporin class antibiotics (Cefotetan aka Cefotan) and some others (10).

Metronidazole also has various central Autonomic nervous system related side effects, such as flatness, inertia, apathy, sedation, lightheadedness, anxiety or commotion. Taking into account that alcohol is also a strong depressant for the central nervous system, you can imagine what can happen when you double the effect.

It’s an absolute must to steer clear of driving a car, it’s a total non-option in terms of permissibility for elderly patients, and it can literally inflict physical damage if combined with other Central nervous system depressants (especially the painkillers).

Take a 72 hour break (at the very least) after you last administered the drug, before you consume alcohol. Even better, totally neutralize the risk and completely stay away from the alcohol for the period of treatment.

There are also antibiotics whose effect may just be unaltered or those for which alcohol has completely no relevance for:

Doxycycline – it has a history with alcohol; the effectiveness of this medicine may be significantly lower for persons that have chronic alcohol related problems. It is not recommend for people with liver issues (11).

Erythromycin – minor effect of alcohol, in the form of light decrease or delay in the impact of the drug (12).

linezolid – can safely react upon fermented alcohol, such as wine, beer, cider, mead, etc (13).

Co-trimoxazole – consuming alcohol when administering co-trimoxazole may sometimes lead to a similar reaction as with metronidazole, although this happens extremely rarely; drinking alcohol responsibly (i.e. in low dosage as in casual drinking or social drinking) does not usually have repercussions (14).

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Alcohol and Antibiotics: Why it’s Never a Good Idea