Is it safe to combine antibiotics and alcohol?

Is it safe to combine antibiotics and alcohol?

Everyone is aware that drinking alcohol can be injurious 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 serious 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 averting the antibodies from reproducing. Though white blood cells in your body attack harmful bacteria and cure the infection itself but 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?

Here are the recommendations and possible side effects of taking alcohol with different antibiotics.


The tetracycline class of antibiotics is doxycycline and minocycline. This class of antibiotics 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 negative effects on your liver, so avoid mixing alcohol with minocycline.


Metronidazole is a nitroimidazole antibiotic that doctors recommend in order to treat abdominal infections, sexually transmitted infections, and others.

Metronidazole works by affecting the function of a key 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 cause:

  • 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.


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

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 serious side effects after drinking alcohol with Oxazolidines.


Doctors recommend sulfonamide antibiotics in order to treat bacterial infections like urinary, abdominal, and respiratory infections. Sulfonamide antibiotics also comprise the combination drug Bactrim Ds (trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole) that 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

Both alcohol and antibiotics have separate sets of side effects which 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 serious fatigue, dizziness, throbbing headache, heart palpitations, and anxiety.

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

Mixing alcohol with some antibiotics can also damage important organs like the liver. 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 worsen it.

Talk with the doctor

Combing 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 follow the advice.

Remember antibiotics are prescribed by the doctor only on a short-term basis. To have your next 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 in a short time then avoiding alcohol can help you out. Before Buying the antibiotic, you must consult the doctor or pharmacist. They can better guide you about alcohol use and antibiotics.

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