Can you drink antibiotics? The truth about mixing antibiotics and alcohol


Wine can go well with a good meal at dinner, but the one thing it shouldn’t be paired with are antibiotics. In reality, drinking alcohol while taking a course of antibiotics can be a dangerous combination.

While the good bacteria, known as probioticshelp your body function properly by supporting the immune system and restore balance, an overgrowth of bad bacteria can make you sick. Fortunately, antibiotics are drugs that can treat and prevent bacterial infections, such as strep throat – by killing bacteria or inhibiting their growth and proliferation.

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“Without antibiotics, it would be incredibly difficult to fight off harmful infections,” says Dr. Tochi Iroku-Malize, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians and chairman of family medicine at Northwell Health in Long Island, New York.

Since the accidental discovery of penicillin by Dr. Alexander Fleming – the world’s first true antibiotic – in 1928, antibiotics have saved millions of lives and are still widely used today. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, healthcare providers wrote more than 201 million prescriptions for antibiotics in 2020.

Although antibiotics are the mainstay of treatment, certain foods, beverages and other drugs can interfere with the effectiveness and absorption of antibiotics. Alcohol is one of the main things to avoid. Having an alcoholic drink generally will not affect the effectiveness of antibiotics, depending on the amount consumed and the type of antibiotic taken. But any alcohol consumption while taking an antibiotic can cause unpleasant side effects and decrease your body’s ability to fight infections.

“Mixing alcohol and antibiotics can exacerbate the side effects of some antibiotics like drowsiness, nausea, and dizziness,” says Iroku-Malize. “The mixture can also lead to more dangerous side effects such as high blood pressure or cause liver damage.”

Serious consequences of mixing alcohol and antibiotics

Although antibiotics are generally safe when used as prescribed by a healthcare professional, some drugs in certain drug classes can cause liver damage. This risk increases significantly when antibiotics are mixed with alcohol. Some antibiotics carry a risk of liver damage, a risk greatly magnified when alcohol is also consumed, as alcohol is a type of liver toxin. This combination can also reduce the effectiveness of some antibiotics.

“Alcohol can alter both the absorption and breakdown of antibiotics by the liver, making them less available in the body to treat the underlying infection for which they are being used,” says Dr. Scott Friedman, Dean of therapeutic discovery and head of the division. liver disease at the Icahn School of Medicine in Mount Sinai Hospital At New York.

Drinking alcohol while taking antibiotics can make symptoms worse and, in rare cases, lead to serious illnessespecially in the elderly.

Because our body is natural the ability to metabolize alcohol slows with age, older adults are at increased risk of harmful interactions since more drugs are used as people age. For women, there is also an increased threat of mixing alcohol with antibiotics, as women have less water in their bodies than men, even when they weigh the same. As a result, a higher concentration of alcohol continues to circulate In the blood.

Drug and alcohol interactions

In a study 2020 Published in the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, Western New York Veterans Affairs Department pharmacists at Buffalo assessed available research to determine which antibiotics are safe to consume and which should not be mixed with alcohol. Several of the most common antibiotics – such as azithromycin, ciprofloxacin and penicillin – are safe when alcohol is consumed. But the researchers noted that concomitant Use of alcohol with certain antibiotics should be avoided in many cases.

Below is a list of how antibiotics can be used with alcohol.

Antibiotics that can be used with alcohol consumption:

  • Azithromycin.
  • Ciprofloxacin.
  • Doxycycline.
  • Fluconazole.
  • Levofloxacin.
  • Minocycline.
  • Moxifloxacin.
  • Nitrofurantoin.
  • Penicillin.
  • Secnidazole.
  • Tetracycline.
  • Tinidazole.
  • Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole.

Antibiotics that can be used with moderate alcohol consumption:

Antibiotics dangerous or presenting an uncertain risk with the consumption of alcohol:

  • Cephalosporins (cefamandole, cefdinir, cefmetazole, cefoperazone, cefotetan, cefpodoxime, ceftriaxone).
  • Cycloserine.
  • Erythromycin.
  • Ethambutol.
  • Ethionamide.
  • Griseofulvin.
  • Isoniazid.
  • Ketoconazole.
  • Metronidazole.
  • Pyrazinamide.

Alcohol warnings on antibiotic packages may vary depending on the pharmacy chain issuing the prescription. Sometimes just reading the label isn’t enough. To be on the safe side, consult your doctor or pharmacist to make sure you are using the prescribed medication correctly.
Here is some questions to ask your doctor or pharmacist:

  • Will drinking alcohol affect the effectiveness of this antibiotic in fighting my infection?
  • What side effects can occur if the two are combined and are they dangerous? What should I pay attention to?
  • Will drinking alcohol with this medication affect my liver?
  • How long after finishing this antibiotic should I wait to have a drink?


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