Is it safe to combine antibiotics and alcohol?

Is it safe to combine antibiotics and alcohol?
Published : Feb 03, 2024
Last Updated : Feb 06, 2024

Everyone is aware that drinking alcohol can be harmful to health. Intake of alcohol occasionally might not cause side effects, but drinking while on antibiotics can cause serious side effects.

Remember, mixing alcohol with antibiotics can trigger and increase the side effects of your medicine, i.e., antibiotics. It is vital to know that alcohol and medicine can be an unsafe mix. Doctors often tell us to avoid the consumption of alcohol when taking various medications, including antibiotics.

A few antibiotics like Tinidazole, Metronidazole, and Sulfamethoxazole must not be mixed with alcohol as it can result in a severe reaction. Drinking any amount of alcohol with antibiotics can lead to side effects like rapid heart rate, flushing, vomiting, headache, and nausea. 

What are Antibiotics?

Antibiotics are powerful medicines that help to destroy and slow down the growth of bacteria in your body. However, antibiotics are not good at fighting infections that are caused by viruses like cold & flu. 

Antibiotics work in your body by either killing attacking bacteria or preventing antibodies from reproducing. Though white blood cells in your body attack harmful bacteria and cure the infection itself, there are times when the number of foreign bacteria is excessive.

This is the time when doctors recommend antibiotics to treat bacterial infections. 

Nowadays, you can find several antibiotics available in the market to treat different bacterial infections:

  • Urinary tract infection

  • Strep throat

  • Ear infections

  • Bacterial pneumonia

  • Sepsis

  • Sexually transmitted diseases

  • Skin infections like acne

Thus, antibiotics are safe to take under the supervision of a doctor.

What are the effects of mixing alcohol with antibiotics?

Although modest drinking of alcohol while using most antibiotics does not have any serious risk. But if you consume alcohol in excessive amounts, then it can be a problem. Here are the recommendations and possible side effects of taking alcohol with different antibiotics.

Tetracyclines

Doxycycline and minocycline are members of the tetracycline class of antibiotics, which is effective in treating a wide range of bacterial infections.

During the treatment with doxycycline, people must avoid the intake of alcohol. Remember, alcohol can have a negative effect when taken with this antibiotic.

Also, doxycycline and minocycline can be less effective for people who drink excessive alcohol or have alcohol use disorder (AUD).

Liver toxicity is considered a rare side effect of taking minocycline. As alcohol also has adverse effects on your liver, so avoid mixing alcohol with minocycline.

Nitroimidazoles

Metronidazole is a nitroimidazole antibiotic that doctors recommend for treating abdominal infections, sexually transmitted infections, and others.

Metronidazole works by affecting the function of a critical enzyme that aids the body to digest alcohol. When Flagyl (metronidazole) restrains the enzyme aldehyde dehydrogenase, the levels of acetaldehyde start to gather in your blood.

As a result, the toxic effects of alcohol are caused. When you mix alcohol with metronidazole, it can have an increased risk of side effects like:

  • Vomiting

  • Abdominal cramping

  • Headaches

  • Nausea

  • Facial flushing

During the treatment and up to 3 days after the last dose of this antibiotic, you must strictly avoid the consumption of alcohol.

Oxazolidines

You need to know that Linezolid belongs to the oxazolidinone class of antibiotics. Doctors often recommend oxazolidinones to treat urinary tract infections and abdominal, lung, and skin infections. 

For people who drink tap beers and red wine with Linezolid, the amount of tyramine in their blood might rise. They can experience side effects because of the increased tyramine levels instead of alcohol itself.

People can also experience mild, moderate, or severe side effects after drinking alcohol with Oxazolidines.

Sulfonamides

Doctors recommend sulfonamide antibiotics to treat bacterial infections, such as urinary, abdominal, and respiratory infections. Sulfonamide antibiotics also comprise the combination drug Bactrim Ds (trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole), which doctors also call Septra.

Though an occasional alcohol intake is safe with sulfonamides, but does not recommend sulfonamide antibiotics to people who drink alcohol regularly.

Dangers of combining antibiotics with alcohol

Alcohol and medication interactions are something that you must take care of. Both alcohol and antibiotics have separate sets of side effects that can impact the behavior and mental state of individuals. Due to this reason, it is never recommended to mix antibiotics with alcohol.

When combined with alcohol, some antibiotics can make you suffer from violent physical reactions. Consuming alcohol while taking antibiotics can result in severe fatigue, dizziness, throbbing headaches, heart palpitations, high blood pressure, and anxiety.

Alcohol can also worsen your digestive side effects and turn into blood or mucus in stool, fever, severe diarrhea, uncontrollable vomiting, and intense stomach cramping.

Mixing alcohol with some antibiotics can also damage vital organs like the liver and cause other severe reactions to health. Remember, the kidneys in your body are responsible for eliminating toxins, including medicines, from the body and blood via urine. Antibiotics might also overburden and damage your kidneys, and alcohol consumption worsens it. If case you have a history of alcohol abuse, then you must inform your doctor as they might prescribe your treatment accordingly. Excessive alcohol consumption is generally not for a person's help, so be aware of it and limit your alcohol consumption.

Talk with the doctor.

Combining antibiotics with alcohol is not a good idea at all. Both alcohol and antibiotics can lead to severe side effects in your body. Not only this, but alcohol consumption while taking antibiotics raises the risk of harmful effects quickly.

In case the label on your antibiotic medication says not to drink alcohol during treatment, then strictly avoid consuming alcoholic beverages.

Remember, antibiotics are prescribed by the doctor only on a short-term basis. To have your subsequent alcohol consumption, it is vital to wait until the doctor stops treatment with antibiotics.

Doing so will decrease the possibility of experiencing complications or severe side effects when on antibiotics.

If you wish to treat your infection quickly, it would be best to avoid alcohol consumption. Before Buying the antibiotic, you must consult the doctor or pharmacist. They can better guide you about alcohol use, harmful interactions, and antibiotics.

Therefore, alcohol consumption with antibiotics can be risky for your body. Alcohol not only interacts poorly with some medicines and causes severe side effects. Combining antibiotics with alcohol can also disturb the healing procedure as well.

Related Article - How long do antibiotics take to work?

Final lines:

Combining alcohol with antibiotics can cause serious side effects and interfere with the medication's effectiveness. Antibiotics like Tinidazole, Metronidazole, and Sulfamethoxazole, when mixed with alcohol, can lead to severe reactions. You may face side effects like rapid heart rate, flushing, vomiting, headache, and nausea. Alcohol also worsens side effects and delays recovery.

To avoid complications, it's essential to follow your doctor's advice and avoid alcohol during an antibiotic treatment. Always consult your doctor or pharmacist about potential interactions and risks associated with alcohol and antibiotics. Waiting until your antibiotic treatment is complete before consuming alcohol will help ensure a fast and easy recovery.

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