Drinking on Antibiotics – Alcohol and Antibiotics, OK or NOT OK?


We are always told not to drink whilst taking our course of antibiotics, either by the doctor or by most people around us. So considering nobody recommends it, is it actually good advice? Can we actually be hospitalised for consuming both alcohol and antibiotics together or will the alcohol just reduce the effectiveness of the antibiotics? Will alcohol and antibiotics interact or with the alcohol have no effect at all on the antibiotics?

These are all questions that pop through our minds while we are gagging for a drink or a night out while unfortunately taking antibiotics, but are any of the questions relevant and is the ‘no alcohol’ taboo true?

Well lets look at a few suggestions of why you should not consume alcohol and antibiotics together and possibly come up with a verdict from these.

  • Alcohol and Antibiotics Interaction: Antibiotics are mainly metabolised in the Liver and the Kidneys. When taking antibiotics that are metabolised in the Liver, it may be dangerous and non advisable to consume alcohol as alcohol is also metabolised in the liver and both alcohol (ethanol) and the antibiotics may interact.
  • Both Increase Body Temperature: Alcohol being metabolised in the liver, increases the liver temperature, thus bodily temperature. Antibiotics can also increase the body’s temperature so could taking both antibiotics and alcohol together further increase body temperature and possible cause fever like symptoms? Just a thought.
  • Antibiotic Effectiveness Unpredictable: Consumption of Alcohol can make the effectiveness of an antibiotic unpredictable, exact mechanisms of this don’t seem to be fully understood.
  • Liver Damage: Heavy Consumption of alcohol whilst taking antibiotics can increase the likelihood of liver damage due to the excessive need for metabolism of both via the liver.
  • Possible Increased Alcohol Absorption: Antibiotics, notably erythromycin may cause increased gastric emptying and thus cause increased alcohol absorption via the small intestine. This possible increased alcohol absorption due to taking antibiotics may make you literally become drunk faster or be more susceptible to the effects of alcohol.
  • Possible reduced Antibiotic Absorption: Alcohol can reduce the absorption of some antibiotics including doxycyclines and tetracyclines but more than likely this will not happen with the vast other types of antibiotics.


Overall Verdict: Can I drink on Antibiotics

More than likely, Yes! No scientific proof seems to exist to suggest that taking alcohol while on any antibiotic will definitely cause horrible side effects or will dramatically reduce the effectiveness of the antibiotic. Only three antibiotics have to be taken without alcohol and they are metronidazole, tinidizole and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, also called Flagyl, Fasigyn and Bactrim.

Avoid Alcohol while taking these 3 Antibiotics

Below is a quote by Brisbane clinical pharmacist Dr Geraldine Moses, stating the side effects of taking alcohol with Flagyl, Fasigyn and Bactrim antibiotics.

“Blood vessels in your skin dilate, so you go red as a beetroot. Blood is taken away from the central parts of the body, so your blood pressure drops and most people faint. And the acetaldehyde stimulates the vomiting centre in the brain, so you feel very sick and usually vomit. It's not a good look”.

Reminder: Do NOT drink alcohol while taking the antibiotics Flagyl, Fasigyn and Bactrim.

Where did the ‘No alcohol while taking antibiotics’ taboo originate from?

The drinking while taking antibiotics taboo seems to derive from the time of the so called “Venereal Disease” STD era of the 1950s and 1960s where medical personnel feared that alcohol would reduce a sufferers inhibitions leading to him or her being a little more frisky and increasing the chances of this infected person spreading the VD (STD).


Dangers of long term alcohol abuse followed by antibiotic consumption

  • Antibiotics remain in cells of the body until they are broken down and detoxified by the liver (not all antibiotics), antibiotics can be damaging to some cells of the body and at some point have to be metabolised. With diseases of the liver caused by alcohol and other substances liver function can be diminished and the breakdown of the antibiotics can also be lessened. In this case antibiotics can remain in the body and liver for too long, which can prove toxic by causing damage to both liver and other bodily cells.
  • Sufferers of Cirrhosis, Hepatitis, any liver damage or with liver problems should always consult a doctor or mention it to a doctor before taking any antibiotics.


What is your opinion? – Alcohol with Antibiotics?

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