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.
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.
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:
The possible side effects will vary depending on which antibiotic you are taking.
If you consume alcohol whilst taking antibiotics, it won’t stop the medicine from working.
But it could stop your body from recovering as quickly as it should. Drinking alcohol:
The effects of alcohol on the body slow down the healing process, even if your antibiotic isn’t affected directly.
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.
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.
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These medicines are dangerous to take with alcohol. Some of the side effects include:
Alcohol can react badly to Linezolid. Mixing the two can cause your blood pressure to spike.
Drinking alcohol on Doxycycline can stop the treatment from working. This is even more likely if you have a history of drinking.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Always check the label before consuming something you’re not sure about.
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.
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