Is Combining Alcohol and Antibiotics Safe?

As you can probably imagine, alcohol and medications can be a dangerous mix. Generally, doctors will recommend avoiding alcohol while taking pretty much any drug because it can interfere with a medication’s ability to do its job. The combo can cause serious side effects as well.

Alcohol/Drug Interactions

Antibiotics are just one of the drugs that should not be mixed with alcohol. Alcohol does not make an antibiotic less effective, but it may make the side effects of both alcohol and antibiotics worse.

The specific side effects that an antibiotic can cause depends on the drug, but some common side effects of antibiotics include:

  • nausea
  • sleepiness
  • dizziness
  • lightheadedness
  • diarrhea

Alcohol can also cause side effects. These can include:

  • upset stomach
  • digestive problems — such as stomach pain, diarrhea, and ulcers
  • tiredness

Combining alcohol and antibiotics can make all of these symptoms worse. Antibiotics such as trimethoprim/ sulfamethoxazole and metronidazole can lead to more serious side effects if taken with alcohol.

Signs of a negative alcohol-antibiotic reaction include:

  • flushing (reddening and warming of your skin)
  • severe headache
  • racing heart rate

In most cases, these side effects go away on their own.

Effects of Alcohol On Healing

Alcohol won’t prevent healing but it can interfere with the healing process in other ways. For example, rest and nutrition are important when healing from an infection — alcohol can prevent your body from absorbing the vital nutrients and from getting a good night’s sleep. It canĀ also increase your blood sugar levels and cause you to be even more tired.

Common Antibiotics

  • amoxicillin
  • azithromycin
  • cephalexin
  • doxycycline
  • ciprofloxacin
  • penicillin
  • augmentin

For the most part, you should only have to take antibiotics for a week or two. If you feel you cannot abstain from drinking for that amount of time, talk to your doctor about alcohol treatment.

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