What Happens When You Mix Alcohol With Antibiotics?

Drinking Alcohol While Taking Antibiotics:

As mentioned earlier that alcohol and antibiotics together can be dangerous to the health. Doctors recommend not taking alcohol while taking antibiotics. There are several side effects which are unsafe for human health which occur with alcohol-drug interaction when one drinks on antibiotic.

Although alcohol many not reduce the effectiveness of most antibiotics; it can reduce an individual’s energy and delay the healing. So, if you combine alcohol with antibiotics, it may not only cause serious side effects but also may delay your recovery process.

Few antibiotics like Metronidazole, Tinidazole, Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole etc may cause severe reactions when taken with alcohol. Most common side effects of taking alcohol with these antibiotics may include headache, nausea, vomiting, flushing, rapid heart rate etc.

What Happens When You Mix Alcohol With Antibiotics?

What Happens When You Mix Alcohol With Antibiotics?

One of the most common Alcohol-antibiotic interactions is with the antimicrobial agent metronidazole or Flagyl. A variety of infections like skin, joint, gastrointestinal, respiratory tract infections etc. are treated by Metronidazole and taking alcohol with it may cause a reaction called ‘Disulfiram-like reaction” which may include nausea, flushing of the skin, vomiting, headaches, difficulty breathing, rapid heart rate, stomach cramps etc. There are also some antibiotics which may cause CNS or Central nervous system side effects like drowsiness, dizziness, sedation, and also confusion.

Actually, alcohol is known to be a CNS depressant. And when alcohol is combined with antibiotics that also have an effect of CNS depressant; additive effects may occur. Such effects or rather, the side effects may be dangerous while driving, in elderly people, in patients with anxiety, seizers etc or those who are taking other CNS depressant medications.

Let us know about some of the significant antimicrobial-alcohol drug interactions in the following paragraph. We will not only talk about the interacting drugs and their side effects when combined with alcohol; but also know about the correct recommendation for preventing self from the antimicrobial-alcohol drug interaction while on antibiotic treatments.

#1. Metronidazole When Combined With Alcohol: You may have disulfiram-like reaction and experience symptoms like nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, headaches, flushing of the skin, etc.

It is essential to avoid drinking alcohol while on this antibiotic. You need to avoid drinking for 3 days after antibiotic treatment.

#2. Tinidazole When Taken With Alcohol: You may experience symptoms similar as that experienced with metronidazole when combined with alcohol. Symptoms include abdominal cramps, nausea, headaches, vomiting, flushing etc. It is recommended not to take alcohol for 3 days after Tinidazole antibiotic treatment.

#3. Health Dangers of Taking Cycloserine With Alcohol: Cycloserine when combined with alcohol may produce some side effects like seizures. t may improve the risk of CNS or central nervous system toxicity. It is recommended not to take alcohol while on this antibiotic.

#4. Cefotetan When Combined With Alcohol: There may be side effects which may include disulfiram-like reaction like flushing, headache, sweating, rapid heart rate etc. Do not drink alcohol for 3 days of Cefotetan antibiotic treatment

#5. Taking Alcohol With Isoniazid: Taking alcohol with Isoniazid may also cause some side effects like increased risk of toxicity in the liver. It is recommended not to drink alcohol while taking this antibiotic.

#6. What Happens When Ethionamide is Taken With Alcohol?: There may be an increased risk of toxicity of the Central nervous system and also there may be psychosis experienced when alcohol is taken with ethionamide. Do not take alcohol while on Ethionamide.

#7. Linezoid When Taken With Alcohol: Linezoid when combined with alcohol may cause side effects like increased hypertension or dangerous blood pressure in the person. Avoid taking alcohol while on Linezoid antibiotic.

8#. Pyrazinamide When Combined With Alcohol: There may be an increased liver toxicity when pyrazinamide is combined with alcohol.

#9. Side Effects of Taking Thalidomide With Alcohol: Thalidomide when combined with alcohol may produce symptoms like increased risk of additive sedation, drowsiness, nausea, motor skills etc. Avoid taking alcohol while on Thalidomide antibiotic.

#10. Voriconazole When Combined With Alcohol: Combination of the antibiotic with alcohol may increase or decrease the level of Voriconazole levels because of altered liver metabolism.

#11. Didanosine When Combined With Alcohol: There may be increased chance of pancreatic when didanosine is combined with alcohol. Avoid taking alcohol while on this antibiotic.

#12. Taking Rifampin With Alcohol: There may be side effects of liver toxicity when rifampin and alcohol are taken together. It is essential to keep away from alcohol while taking the antibiotic treatment.

How Alcohol Interfere With The Healing Process?

As we mentioned above that drinking alcohol may delay your healing process; here let us look at the fact on how alcohol may interfere in the healing procedure.

Before we proceed on this, we must mention that drinking alcohol generally won’t keep the antibiotic away from acting to treat your infection or illness. However, it can interfere in the healing procedure in some other ways.

For recovering from the illness or infection; along with antibiotics it is essential for you to have enough rest and eat nutritious diet. However, drinking alcohol may interfere with these factors. For example; alcohol can disrupt the sleep pattern, it can keep you away from having a good, sound night’s sleep. Alcohol can also prevent your body from absorbing the important nutrients. It can increase blood sugar levels and also sap your energy level. All these factors associated with drinking alcohol can reduce the ability of your body to heal from an infection or illness.

It must be noted that binge drinking or chronic use of alcohol may be harmful. Keep in mind that alcohol is not only limited to wine, beer, liquor, and mixed drinks. It can also be present in some mouthwashes and cold medication. Kindly check the ingredients on the labels and keep away from alcohol-antibiotic reaction.


Usually it is good to avoid drinking while on antibiotics; but you may talk to your doctor or pharmacist and ask if you can occasional drink while taking the antibiotic. Also ask your doctor in case you are not sure about the details of the medication. For most antibiotics, you need to wait for at least 3 days after finishing the antibiotic course before you take alcohol so as to prevent alcohol-drug interaction.

In most cases; side effects may go away on their own. But, there may be cases of medical emergency even at times. You can call 911 or your local emergency services number for immediate medical attention.

Kindly note that avoiding alcohol if you are unwell and taking antibiotics is most recommended as it not only keeps you away from the side effects of alcohol-antibiotic interaction but also helps you heal at a quicker rate.

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:March 27, 2019

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