< The Effects of Combining Alcohol and Antibiotics | I Quit Drinking

Most of the time, doctors will recommend patient to avoid alcohol while taking medication, including antibiotics. This is based on the fact that alcohol and antibiotics may be a dangerous mix. The alcohol can obstruct the medication process, and to greater extent may cause negative side effects. A genitourinary clinic in London once surveyed more than 300 patients. The result is 81 percent believed that alcohol would stop antibiotics from working properly, while 71 percent believed that alcohol would cause side effects when consumed together with antibiotics. In this article we will talk about the effects of combining alcohol and antibiotics. Before talking about the main topic, let’s dig more about antibiotics.

Definition of Antibiotics

Antibiotics are consumed to prevent certain bacterial infections by killing certain class of bacteria. It means different antibiotics aim different strains of bacteria. Some are highly specialized, but others are just over-the-counter antibiotics.

The function of antibiotics will be less effective if being combined with alcohol. The antibiotics itself, have side effects to the body, such as dizziness, diarrhea, nausea, and sleepiness. Mixing alcohol and antibiotics can possibly make these symptoms worse, especially for antibiotics such as sulfamethoxazole, trimethoprim, tinidazole, and metronidazole. Some antibiotic interacts with certain alcoholic liquids. In the label of antibiotics, there will be information and warning about alcohol consumption. Sometimes you need to wait at least for 72 hours after the last antibiotic intake, before drinking any alcohol. The prescription of antibiotics from the doctor is only for short time, about a week or two.

There are many over-the-counter medications (OTCs) that contain alcohol inside the formulation, such as the antibiotics for cough medicines, cold or flu products, or mouthwashes.

Effects of Combining Alcohol and Antibiotics

The enzymes inside the liver have the role to break down alcohol, as well as antibiotics. With the same enzyme, combining alcohol and antibiotics can lead to broken pattern. For example, when you are consuming alcohol, the enzymes will be “busy” to break down the alcohol. Meanwhile, the enzymes won’t work efficiently to absorb the drug. It means that the antibiotics are not fully excreted. You can see the symptoms of combining alcohol and antibiotics such as:

1. Skin Warmth

The skin will flush, identified by the rapid reddening from the neck, upper chest, and face. This condition happens when the blood flow is increased. The people with inactive enzyme to break down alcohol will be more likely to have warm skin after consuming alcohol.

2. High Heart Rate

Also known as heart palpitation, this is the sensation that a person feels when he has extra beat. It will feel like the heart is fluttering. Actually palpitation is harmless, but in some cases, high heart rate indicates serious condition.

3. Severe Headache

In 2014, the World Health Organizations once released the report that headaches are extremely common. Severe headache happens when the pain still remain more than 15 days until 3 months. And this is one of the effects of combining alcohol and antibiotics due to high blood pressure.

4. Vomiting

Throwing up is the way body to discharge toxic stomach contents. You need to pay attention when the vomit happens more than once. The symptoms of vomiting can be dangerous because it will leave the body dehydrated. Excessive consumption of alcohol and combining alcohol with antibiotics are also one of the triggers of vomiting.

5. Sleeping Pattern

In small doze, actually the consumption of alcohol won’t disturb the antibiotics job to cure the bacterial infection. But the effects of combining alcohol and antibiotics may interfere your body. Drinking alcohol can unsettle your sleeping pattern. When you don’t have enough good night sleep, your body can’t take in the important nutrients. These factors will reduce your power to heal from infection.

Circumstances When You Should Avoid Alcohol-Antibiotics Mix

The effects of combining alcohol and antibiotics are different one another. These are the lists of alcohol-antibiotics interaction that you should avoid. But please bear in mind that this is not the ultimate list. So you are recommended to consult with the doctor about the combination of alcohol and antibiotics.

Metronidazole Antibiotics

You should avoid combining metronidazole antibiotics which common to heal dental, infected leg ulcers, pressure sores, and vaginal infections. Also antibiotics like tinidazole should not be consumed together with alcohol.


Similar to previous example, the combining of alcohol and antibiotics can cause similar reaction, but in rare cases.


The linezolid can interact with fermented alcoholic drink like sherry, lager, wine, and beer. You should avoid combining alcohol and antibiotics in this phase.


Combining alcohol and antibiotics will reduce and delay the effect of erythromycin.


Similar reaction can occur when you mix cephalosporin antibiotics like Cefotetan and Tindamax. Don’t drink alcohol while using these medications. The antibiotics like cephlalosporin cefotetan slow the breakdown process of alcohol. This will lead to unpleasant symptoms like vomiting and headache.


Usually this kind of antibiotic is used for treatment for alcohol dependency. The patient will have unpleasant symptoms and make him tempted to go back consuming alcoholic drink.

Alcohol has the role to depress the central nervous system or CNS. When you still consume alcoholic drink while taking antibiotics, there will be side effects of combining alcohol and antibiotics. This will be worse for patients who take other CNS depressant medications like muscle relaxants, anxiety medications, or pain relievers.

Please do remember that alcohol isn’t just your regular alcoholic drink. Alcohol can also be found in cold medications, housewares, and mouthwashes. So it will be much better if you check the label carefully every time you are doing medication process. Consider waiting until the medication process finish before you start to drink alcohol. As a bonus, avoiding alcohol will help you to heal from your infection more quickly.

Being wise in combining alcohol and antibiotics had originated since 1950s, when Karl Kruszelnicki, a doctor in ABC Science referred it to the history of penicillin as the treatment for sexually transmitted infections. In conclusion, if you are having ongoing medication and need to consume antibiotics regularly, it is better to avoid alcohol to reduce secondary complications risk.