All truth about alcohol and antibiotics mix

antibiotics250812Till today, people discussing alcohol and drugs interaction and can’t come to the right decision. But one thing should be remembered for sure - drinking alcohol while taking medication often leads to life-threatening consequences. The reaction of this combination is different: in some cases, the medicine increases their effect, in others – this effect is weakened, and sometimes - completely distorted. The reaction of the organism to drugs taken in combination with alcohol is often simply impossible to predict.

In order to start research on antibiotics and alcohol interaction, let’s, specify the main drugs groups. As we know, the most popular drugs among people are still being antibiotics, which kill or slow bacteria growth. They include anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-parasitic drugs.

Classes of antibiotics include:


  • Amikacin
  • Gentamicin
  • Kanamycin
  • Neomycin
  • Netilmicin
  • Streptomycin
  • Tobramycin


  • Loracarbef


  • Ertapenem
  • Imipenem/Cilastatin
  • Meropenem


  • Cefadroxil
  • Cefazolin
  • Cephalexin
  • Cefamandole
  • Cefoxitin
  • Ceftriaxone
  • Cefepime


  • Teicoplanin
  • Vancomycin


  • Azithromycin
  • Clarithromycin
  • Dirithromycin
  • Erythromycin
  • Troleandomycin


  • Aztreonam


  • Amoxicillin
  • Ampicillin
  • Azlocillin
  • Carbenicillin
  • Cloxacillin
  • Dicloxacillin
  • Flucloxacillin
  • Mezlocillin
  • Nafcillin
  • Penicillin
  • Piperacillin
  • Ticarcillin


  • Bacitracin
  • Colistin
  • Polymyxin B


  • Ciprofloxacin
  • Enoxacin
  • Gatifloxacin
  • Norfloxacin
  • Ofloxacin
  • Trovafloxacin


  • Mafenide
  • Prontosil (archaic)
  • Sulfacetamide
  • Sulfamethizole
  • Sulfanilimide (archaic)
  • Sulfasalazine
  • Sulfisoxazole
  • Trimethoprim


The most common consequences after taking alcohol and antibiotics are injury, increased risk of illness and sometimes death.

Today, the drug market is oversaturated with the great variety of possible medications. Annually, in the USA healthcares prescribe more than 14 billion meds to the patients. Thus, 70% of adults sometimes take alcohol while treating with the drugs, 10% used to drink every day, in spite of treatment with meds.

The elder the person, the more risk it has during mixing alcohol and drugs. But it doesn’t mean, if you are young you can drink and intake meds and will live healthy and long. Every case is individual. You never know what will be then.

In order to clarify possible side effects after such “therapy” with alcohol and drugs, let’s see the interaction processes.

The effects after combining antibiotics and alcohol can vary. It’s all depending upon antibiotics specific.

Researches approved, that alcohol doesn’t diminish the effectiveness of most antibiotics but their mix can cause common side effects, like stomach upset, dizziness and drowsiness and if you still continue alcohol and drugs intake these side effects may increase.

Sometimes, alcohol can reduce the effectiveness of some antibiotics. For instance, doxycycline (Vibramycin, Doryx).

Be attentive when taking Flagyl, Tindamax, Bactrim and alcohol as their combination may cause more severe reaction with such side effects as flushing, headache, nausea and vomiting, rapid heart rate, and shortness of breath. Keep in mind that some cold medicines and mouthwashes also contain alcohol, try to avoid such products when treating with these antibiotics.

The common side effects after combining alcohol and antibiotics: nausea, vomiting, convulsions, abdominal cramps, headaches, fast heart rate and flushing.

Don’t forget that alcohol can reduce your energy and delay your recovery from illness. So, it may be best to avoid alcohol until you have finished your antibiotics therapy and feel better.

Remember these antibiotics and never mix them with the alcohol: Antimalarial Quinacrine (Atabrine), Furazolidone (Furoxone), Metronidazole and Tinidazole (side-effects include flushing, breathlessness, headache, increased or irregular heart rate, low blood pressure, nausea and vomiting), Griseofulvin (Grisactin).

As it has been said below, alcohol can interact not only with antibiotics, but with other groups of widespread meds:

  • Anesthetics – pain killers, especially after or before surgery.
  • Anti-diabetic medications – help to reduce blood glucose in diabetic patients. Interaction of this class drugs lead to nausea and headache.
  • Antidepressants – one of the ways to get rid off depression. Usually, people used to treat with these drugs and alcohol, but they probably don’t know possible consequences, as in this case, the may be fatal.
  • Antihistamines – treat allergic symptoms and insomnia.
  • Anticoagulants (Warfarin) help to prevent blood clots from forming or growing larger in your blood and blood vessels. Alcohol intake reduces the drug effect.
  • Cardiovascular medications (Nitroglycerin, Reserpine, Methyldopa, Hydralazine, and Guanethidine) – usually treat angina and high blood pressure. Alcohol intake with these meds causes dizziness and potentially reduces drugs’ therapeutic effects.

Thus, the use of alcohol with drugs can lead to sad consequences. Moreover, the alcohol itself is the cause of the defeat of all organs and systems and the development of alcohol addicting. The changes in the body, which are caused by alcohol, sometimes are untreatable, even after treatment of alcoholism.

Antibiotics and alcohol - deadly mix

No Alcohol

We all know perfectly well even from childhood, that alcohol and drugs are incompatible. You can not drink alcohol during treatment; you can not drink the pills during a party, well, what is strictly prohibited at all - take antibiotics and drink them with alcohol.

    But it’s not enough to say “stop”, as a rule we often want to here real arguments, why this or that is harmful. So, we are going to speak about antibiotics and alcohol interaction, separating:

    - Cases in which alcohol alters medication;

    - Cases where the drug modifies the effect of alcohol;

    Cases in which alcohol alters medication

    On the behavior of the drug in our body alcohol can affect by different ways. For example, to strengthen medication, to reduce (inhibit) or to change the drug act at all with unpredictable side effects in the human body.

    The most unpleasant aspect of antibiotics and alcohol cooperation is their unpredictability. Of course, a lot depends on the individual characteristics of the organism, as well as from specific alcoholic beverages and drugs.

    A striking example of the impact of antibiotics and alcohol, which was used mainly by suicide, was drinking sleeping-pills barbiturates with vodka. Even if we consider that the dose of hypnotic drugs was minimal, but drunk vodka, this leads to a significant penetration of barbiturates in the cells of the brain and, therefore, fatal respiratory depression.

    Also, do not combine with antidepressants with alcohol, first of all from the group of inhibitors. The point is that the enzyme MAO in our body destroys monoamine - serotonin, dopamine, melatonin, noradrenalin, adrenaline, etc.

    Alcohol, in fact, is the depressant, and thus reduces the effect of antidepressants to zero. Another unpleasant feature is that alcohol activates the cytochrome (liver enzymes). Cytochromes even destroy the property of many drugs, such as oral contraceptives. It is possible that after taking the oral contraceptive pill after drinking can be disassembled by these hepatic enzymes so fast that you can take the missed pill.

    Cases where the drug modifies the effect of alcohol

    Antibiotics and Alcohol
      As we know, under the influence of enzymes in our body decomposes ethanol. At the first stage of decomposition of ethanol turns into acetic aldehyde. Then, acetic aldehyde in acetic acid, which has no problem turning into water and carbon dioxide.

      The most dangerous for the organism and the most toxic of all this chain is acetic aldehyde. Due to this we feel the morning symptoms of hangover after the turbulent events. Incidentally, this particular acetic aldehyde is a method of treating alcoholism.

      Another striking example of alcohol and antibiotics interaction may appear due to caffeine. As a result of the interaction of ethanol and caffeine, even coffee liqueur acts as a good vodka, despite the fact that the liquor is twice less degree.

Antibiotics and alcohol: what to drink after?

In everyday life many of us are taking any medications. However, alcohol is often one of the attributes of our conversation.

Antibiotics and alcohol are split in our body by the same enzymes. This prevents the medication.

    Almost all drugs are provided with the package warnings on the inadmissibility of the alcohol while treatment. Even if you have not warned the doctor or pharmacist, alcohol can reduce the efficiency of drug discovery. And in more severe cases, cause side effects and lead to death.

    Taking antibiotics, first of all they flow from the stomach into the blood, and then to the liver, which is a “laboratory” of our body. Located in the liver enzymes transform drugs and distribute “them to the appropriate authorities. Undigested residues derived from the organism. With alcohol comes a similar process. It flows from the blood into the liver, and then, after processing, is carried to various parts of the body, especially in the nervous system.

    This suggests that alcohol and antibiotics “compete” with each other in their process of splitting enzymes responsible for the chemical processes. As a result, drugs are often taken together with alcohol, “unavailable” for the body and are not effective.

    Such way, the drug, which is not revised in time, causes side effects in the body. In addition, chronic alcohol consumption destroys certain enzymes, which makes difficult drugs assimilation in general.


    The interaction between alcohol and enzymes, which in the liver, not only delay the effect of drugs, but splits them into toxic and sometimes deadly components. Examples of the harm impact of antibiotics and alcohol: some of drugs can cause nausea, vomiting, headaches, and sometimes seizures. Alcohol reduces the influence of antibiotics and may cause the development of more resistant germs and increase the time the disease.

    Or for instance, medicines against blood clotting: alcohol increases the “availability” of these drugs in the body and increases the risk of uncontrolled bleeding. On the other hand chronic consumption compatible with the actions of drugs can cause blood clots formation.

Interaction of antibiotics and alcohol - myth or reality?

Are alcohol and antibiotics reconcilable? From the scientific point of view alcohol, with rare exceptions (metronidazole), not contraindicated to those, who takes antibiotics. But science is one thing and another - a life. What people think about this issue and what do the doctors say? The answers to this question have tried to get the British researchers who conducted a survey of patients and medical staff offices of venereal disease in London hospitals “Guy’s and St Thomas”. Researchers stress that the survey was approved by the Ethics Committee of the hospital.

    They have found that 76% of staff offices believe that before the end of their course of antibiotics, patients should abstain completely from alcohol consumption. Polls of the same patients showed that 71% of them believe that they can feel bad if they drink at a reception of antibiotics, and 81% believe that alcohol will prevent the effective action of drugs. Patients maintained their views and in fact, that is not drinking at the time when given antibiotics. Interviewed patients were younger (average age - 28 years) and fairly educated (51% completed university), so we are not talking about “Grandma’s prejudices.”

    The authors describe the interesting facts that might lay the basis of popular opinion (myth?) about antibiotics and alcohol interaction. During World War II, penicillin was used for the treatment of purulent wounds.

    Inventories of penicillin were limited to such an extent that it had extracted from the urine of patients who receive it, in order to use it again. At that time, wounded soldiers from British Army were given beer to sustain their spirit. Beer increased urinary flow and making urine less concentrated, making it difficult to separate penicillin from. Therefore, those who received antibiotics, were not allowed to drink beer. Maybe this became the reason for such thoughts about harm of antibiotics and alcohol.

    In any case, try not to drink alcohol while taking medication. The combination of alcohol with antihistamine drugs, insulin, pills, and tranquilizers, lowering blood pressure can lead to an increase in sleepiness, which is especially dangerous if the next day you are going to drive a car. Antibiotics with alcohol can lead to the rack of the tides of blood to the head, dizziness and nausea.

    Especially alcohol is dangerous for diabetics because of its influence blood sugar levels initially sharply increases and then sharply decreases.

Antibiotics and alcohol: a dangerous neighborhood

Barbecues, picnics, cafes – impossible to imagine without wine or beer! And if you are taking drugs? How do antibiotics and alcohol interact?

Of course, they’d better not mix. All the, antibiotics and alcohol are the chemicals with a strong impact. But some combinations are especially dangerous, so you need to know in order to avoid serious trouble.

Aspirin is often used when alcohol overdosing to prevent unpleasant effects of hangovers. But consequences may be too dangerous: alcohol with antibiotics (aspirin), irritate the mucous membrane, their co-operation can lead to internal bleeding.

Antabuse (remedy for cough) form a dangerous connection with alcohol - even small doses are toxic. If you are cold use this medication temporarily refuse of alcohol.

Antidiabetic medications (tablets) may not provide the expected actions in combination with alcohol. Those who take these drugs, it is better not to drink at all.

Antidepressants - their duet with alcohol can be deadly. Depending on the type of medication and type of beverage the consequences could be very different. For example, Chianti, along with some drugs makes a strong jump in blood pressure. Other antibiotics and alcohol combinations may have a sedative effect with a sharp loss of coordination.

Barbiturates with alcohol - a real Russian roulette :) The result is unpredictable and can be very sad.

Tranquilizers violate the slow reaction and coordination. Even a small dose of this antibiotics and alcohol can lead to disastrous results.

However, there are favorable combination of alcohol and drugs.

    • There is evidence that taking vitamins B-complex before or immediately after the feast softens the unpleasant consequences of alcohol overdosing.

    • Doctors have also found that two drugs, usually prescription with asthma - ephedrine and aminophelline - can significantly improve the coordination of the relocation of citizens, so groggy Happy citizen safely reach home :)