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Home / STIs / Can you drink alcohol on antibiotics?

Can you drink alcohol on antibiotics?

How different antibiotics react to alcohol and which ones are safe

If you have been prescribed antibiotics, you might want to know if it’s safe to drink alcohol whilst taking them. Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections which are very common.

Normally a moderate amount of alcohol won’t affect how the treatment works. But it can react badly and cause unexpected side effects.

a woman holding a glass of wine and a packet of tablets

Read on to find out what happens if you mix alcohol and antibiotics, as well as which treatments are safe and which could be dangerous.

What happens if you drink alcohol while taking antibiotics?

Alcohol and antibiotics can interact, meaning that they can cause unexpected reactions to the medicine.

Some antibiotics do not react with alcohol, whilst some can have dangerous effects. Ask your doctor or read the patient leaflet if you are unsure about any medicine you are taking.

It is common for alcohol and antibiotics to cause:

  1. stomach pain
  2. stomach upset
  3. dizziness
  4. drowsiness

The possible side effects will vary depending on which antibiotic you are taking.

Does alcohol stop antibiotics from working?

If you consume alcohol whilst taking antibiotics, it won’t stop the medicine from working.

A person declining an alcoholic drink

But it could stop your body from recovering as quickly as it should. Drinking alcohol:

  1. disrupts sleep
  2. causes dehydration
  3. reduces your overall energy

The effects of alcohol on the body slow down the healing process, even if your antibiotic isn’t affected directly.

Can alcohol worsen the possible side effects?

As is the case with all treatments, there is a chance that you will experience side effects when taking antibiotics.

Usually, any side effects you do experience will be mild and should go away by themselves once you have finished the course.

However, alcohol and antibiotics can worsen your side effects, or even cause other dangerous reactions.

Possible side effects include vomiting, cramping, or increased heart rate.

Antibiotics can also kill the good bacteria in your gut. As well as avoiding alcohol, some foods should be avoided to help limit other side effects.

Which antibiotics react with alcohol?

Below is a table showing some common antibiotics. Some types of antibiotics are safe with alcohol, but most are not.

Consult your doctor or the patient leaflet if your antibiotic is not on this list.

Antibiótico Nome de marca Pode ser tomado com álcool?
Metronidazol Flagyl
Tinidazole Tindamax
Linezolid Zyvox
Cefotetan Cefotan
Doxiciclina Vibramycin-D
Trimetoprima/Sulfamethoxazole Bactrim
Isoniazid Nydrazid
Nitrofurantoina Macrobid/Macrobid/ Furadantin
Ciprofloxacin Ciproxina/Ciloxan
Flucloxacillin Floxapen
Amoxicilina Amoxil
Azitromicina Zithromax

Antibiotics that react badly to alcohol

Metronidazole, Tinidazole, Trimethoprim/Sulfamethoxazole, and Cefotetan

These medicines are dangerous to take with alcohol. Some of the side effects include:

  1. flushing
  2. nausea and vomiting
  3. headaches
  4. cramps
  5. rapid heart rate

Linezolid

Alcohol can react badly to Linezolid. Mixing the two can cause your blood pressure to spike.

Doxycycline

Drinking alcohol on Doxycycline can stop the treatment from working. This is even more likely if you have a history of drinking.

Isoniazid

This antibiotic with alcohol could harm your liver. In the worst cases, you could even get liver disease.

Please note: you should only take antibiotics if your doctor has prescribed them. Self-medication can cause unnecessary risks or antibiotic resistance.

Can you drink alcohol whilst taking steroids?

Drinking alcohol can increase the risks that are involved with using steroids.

Steroids alone can cause damage to the liver and kidneys. Mixing steroids and alcohol for a long time can cause liver damage or even liver failure.

Antibiotics that are safe with alcohol

Amoxicillin, Azithromycin, Nitrofurantoin, Flucloxacillin, and Ciprofloxacin

These antibiotics are generally safe to take with alcohol as they do not cause any reactions.

But, if you are experiencing side effects such as nausea, drinking alcohol could make you feel a lot worse.

It is always best to avoid alcohol and antibiotics so that you can get better as quickly as possible.

Please note: whilst Nitrofurantoin is okay to take with alcohol, drinking alcohol on other uti antibiotics is not always safe.

When will it be safe to drink alcohol?

For antibiotics that have severe reactions to alcohol (such as metronidazole or tinidazole), it is safe to drink alcohol 3 days after finishing the treatment.

Keep in mind that some cold medicines and mouthwashes have alcohol in them and should also be avoided if you are taking certain treatments.

multiple glasses containing different spirits

Always check the label before consuming something you’re not sure about.

Key takeaways

It is best to avoid drinking alcohol if you are taking a course of antibiotics.

Some treatments react badly with alcohol, which can lead to serious side effects like nausea, vomiting, and a rapid heartbeat.

Whilst some antibiotics are safe to take with alcohol, it is still better to avoid mixing the two. Drinking alcohol can slow down your recovery time, meaning you will be unwell for longer.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Plauto Filho Written by our editorial team Last reviewed 08-09-2023
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