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Can You Drink Alcohol While Taking Antibiotics?

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Alcohol and Antibiotics Side Effects

Alcohol must be avoided while taking antibiotics since harmful interactions and severe side effects are likely to occur. This is all in addition to the negative impact and adverse side effects that alcohol has on the human immune system.

Gastrointestinal Problems From Mixing Alcohol and Antibiotics

When the body starts the process of breaking down alcohol, it produces acetaldehyde – which is a common cause of nausea. People who are taking antibiotics already experience many digestive and stomach side effects. Combining the two can make these effects more severe.

In addition to the typical gastrointestinal problems, antibiotics and alcohol hinder cognitive function, coordination, and concentration. Additionally, alcohol and antibiotics also interfere with the essential processes of the human body, including sleep and hydration. Both are critical components in the recovery process from any bacterial illness.

Due to all these factors, it is advised to keep away from drinking alcohol for the duration of going through antibiotic treatment.

What are Antibiotics?

Common antibiotics are also known as antibacterial agents; specific antibiotics are considered powerful medications that help slow down or even destroy the growth of bacterial infections in the human body. The majority of the most commonly prescribed antibiotics do not fight the ailments that are caused by colds and flu (and other viruses). Still, the following antibiotics fight the infection-causing bacteria and co-occurring diseases.

The doses of antibiotics work by eliminating the clear invading bacteria or by stopping the antibodies from reproducing. The white blood cells in the human body mostly attack harmful bacteria and work to cure the infection by themselves. However, sometimes the sheer number and strength of the foreign bacteria are too much – this needs the doses of antibiotics to help in the process.

There are many types of antibiotics in the market that are prescribed to treat a variety of conditions, which include medications for:

  • Bacterial Infections and fungal infections
  • Sore throat and Strep throat diseases
  • Bacterial pneumonia
  • Sexually transmitted diseases, including urinary tract infections (UTIs) and vaginal infections
  • Viral infections and respiratory infections
  • Ear infections
  • Skin infections such as acne
  • Sepsis

Most types of antibiotics are on the safer spectrum when put to use as prescribed. But, different antibiotics also risk side effects, including nausea, stomach issues, diarrhea, and more.

The common side effects of antibiotics are amplified when taken with alcohol and even cause severe reactions and serious side effects. These dangerous side effects include excessive dizziness, vomiting, drowsiness, headache, and potentially life-threatening seizures. 

This is why it is always a good idea to abstain from alcohol-containing products, consult your medical professionals (doctor) immediately and follow their medical advice closely.

Alcohol Consumption and Harmful Interactions with Antibiotics

Alcoholic beverages are known to interact with antibiotics, and mixing the two can end up causing adverse side effects. Each type of antibiotic works differently and has different reactions when an alcohol interaction occurs.

A primary example is metronidazole, in addition to tinidazole. Both antibiotics can cause pain (even chest pain), dizziness, drowsiness, and the general feeling of illness when these antibiotics interact with alcohol. If an interaction does happen between these two antibiotics and alcohol, it will not take hours but multiple days to work their way out of the body. 

A different course of antibiotics and antibiotic types come with their risks of interactions with alcohol. However, most are generally less severe. While staying deeply unpleasant and having some dangers – in professional medical advice, it is best to abstain from mild or heavy drinking while on antibiotics. 

Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections by either killing off bacteria or stopping their growth. The antibiotics inside the body either get eliminated in the active form via the kidneys or metabolized by the liver.

A repository of more than 87 studies based on alcoholic drinks and antibiotics interactions were studied in 2020 – the review targeted systematic evidence-based studies. This was done to skim through most antibiotic packaging and the warnings on the standard type of antibiotics. 

However, the review concluded that alcohol should not cause problems even when taking many antibiotics. Also, some of the available data states that specific types of antibiotics and a couple of broad showed no adverse reactions when taken with alcohol. 

For instance, in oral use of penicillin, antibiotic-class cephalosporins include cefdinir and cefpodoxime, fluoroquinolones, azithromycin, and tetracycline.

Pharmacokinetic Interactions

These interactions and their adverse reactions occur when alcohol interferes with the metabolism process of different medications that interfere with alcohol metabolism. This happens in the liver, where alcohol and antibiotics get metabolized, sometimes even by the same enzymes.

When a person becomes sober, this increased activity increases the breakdown of the antibiotics. While intoxicated, the alcoholic drinks compete with the antibiotics to get metabolized, slowing down the breakdown process of antibiotics.

Pharmacodynamics Interactions

Pharmacodynamics interactions occur when alcohol boosts the effects of medicines in the system and vice-versa. Erythromycin is mainly used for treating a massive variety of fungal and bacterial infections.

However, the specific medication also gives rise to gastric contractions. It accelerates the emptying of the stomach, reducing the first-pass metabolism of alcohol and effectively leading to faster absorption of alcoholic drinks in the small intestine.

After intake of erythromycin, alcohol concentrations are found to be higher, increasing up to 40 percent on average. Alcohol is also known to diminish the efficacy of erythromycin.

Mixing Alcohol and Antibiotics – Key Effects and Dangers

Alcohol and antibiotics come with individual sets of similar side effects that impact a person’s behavior and mental state. Some antibiotics can also cause dangerous side effects or reactions if and when combined with alcohol. Such antibiotics include Linezolid and Metronidazole, which are common prescription drugs for treating skin and intestinal tract infections. The sulfonamide medicines from the sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim class are used to treat urinary tract infections, ear infections, and pneumonia.

Why Should You Not Mix Alcohol and Antibiotics?

Drinking while on prescription drugs or the course of antibiotics can result in throbbing headaches, bouts of fatigue and depression, dizziness, chest pain, anxiety, and heart palpitations. Alcohol can also increase similar side effects and convert blood into a mucus of stool, severe diarrhea, penetrating stomach cramps, vomiting, and high fever.

Taking alcohol abuse with antibiotics can damage vital organs, which includes liver damage and other related problems. In addition to kidneys, which remove toxins, including medications, from the blood and body, through urine. Antibiotics can overstrain and damage the kidneys, with alcohol exacerbating the damage.

Other than the dangerous and severe side effects mentioned above, antibiotics intake with alcohol use disorder – can hamper immune system processes posing a negative impact on the human body and its natural ability to recover from an infection. Alcohol also slows down the healing process and recovery time and puts people at an elevated risk of getting another disease.

Why Do These Interactions Happen?

The body is dependent on a specific set of enzymes for breaking down alcohol – these enzymes metabolize some of the antibiotics. Alcohol intake can hinder the functionality of these enzymes, stopping them from adequately metabolizing antibiotics to perform their job. All of this increases the risk of developing side effects.

Sources of Alcohol

It is important to note that drinking is not the only source of alcohol.

Alcohol is expected as an ingredient in over-the-counter medications and even in mouthwashes. The concentration in these is relatively low. However, these are still enough to be medically relevant in some cases.

Alcohol exposure is quite easy by taking these medications without checking for interactions. Thus your doctor needs to stay in the loop for all your medicines while prescribing any treatment. 

If you need medical attention, healthcare professionals and treatment providers should be aware of all the medications and drugs (including alcohol) you are taking.

Avoid Alcohol with Antibiotics

As alcohol not only reacts badly with medications and ends up causing severe side effects, it can also go on to potentially hinder the natural healing process. Alcohol abuse must be controlled until after the regimen of antibiotics is completed and your body receives proper nutrition and rest. 

If you suffer from alcohol use disorder, this may be easier said than done. If you believe that you are addicted to alcohol, get in touch with a treatment facility like the Haven Detox – New England, to get started with the recovery process.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long should I wait to drink alcohol after taking antibiotics?

Seventy-two hours after your antibiotics course is complete is appropriate before drinking any alcohol. Paying heed to your doctor and pharmacist’s advice helps avoid the severe side effects of drug-alcohol interaction.

Why shouldn’t I drink alcohol while I’m on antibiotics?

While in some cases taking alcohol and antibiotics might not decrease the medicinal effects of antibiotics, the combined side effects of both can become worse. If you are a regular drinker, let your healthcare professional know before weighing in on any treatment options.  

If you’re taking antibiotics, is it dangerous to drink beer?

Consuming alcohol with antibiotics medications in any form or amount might result in severe side effects, including headache, nausea, flushing, vomiting, and rapid heart rate.

Beat Addiction at The Haven Detox – New England

The Haven Detox New England staff encourages and helps patients with severe alcohol addiction reach recovery. We understand the challenges of addiction and are dedicated to providing safety and comfort to all our patients during this time. 

All patients undergo an assessment before treatment to create an individualized program that best fits their specific needs. The Haven offers medical detox and residential care in our state-of-the-art facility. 

Contact The Haven today if you or a loved one is battling an addiction or mental health disorder. Call us at 844) 933-4145 to speak with an admissions counselor.