Can You Drink Alcohol While Taking Amoxicillin?

Amoxicillin is a widely used antibiotic because of its broad spectrum of activity, its known efficacy, and its cost-effectiveness. In the United States, amoxicillin ranked in the top five of commonly prescribed antibiotics from 2013 to 2015.

Alcohol does not react with Amoxicillin and does not affect its effectiveness. However, it is best to avoid alcohol when treating an infection or feeling unwell.

Alcohol and Amoxicillin

1. Alcohol Is Not Good For A Recovering Body

The fact that you need amoxicillin to fight infection is an indication that your body is not functioning at optimal levels and definitely needs a boost. While amoxicillin kills bacteria in your body by inhibiting the formation of their cell wall, your body needs to eliminate the toxins that the bacteria had produced and recover from the illness.

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Alcohol, on the other hand, is not good for a recovering body. Weakening the body with alcohol may have a prolonging effect on recovery time, and may complicate the treatment of other health problems.

Getting enough rest and having a good sleep pattern is also essential for recovery from an infection. Drinking alcohol can disrupt sleep patterns and reduce energy levels, thereby countering the efforts of a recuperating body.

2. Confusing Side Effects

The most common side effects of penicillin antibiotics are nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, all of which may also occur when you take too much alcohol.

If you throw up while on amoxicillin and alcohol, it can be difficult to know which is the cause, and hence may affect the decision of whether you should stay calm or get immediate medical help. For your own safety, it may just be better to stay off alcohol for the few days of amoxicillin treatment.

3. Dehydration

Alcohol consumption can cause a loss of fluid through diarrhea. Alcohol also decreases the production of the anti-diuretic hormone in the body. This hormone helps the body to reabsorb water and by reducing its production, alcohol causes passage of more water in the urine. This is why you pee more often when you drink.

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The danger is that excessive loss of body fluids can cause dehydration. Amoxicillin can also cause loss of body fluids through diarrhea, and a combination of alcohol and amoxicillin may worsen diarrhea and loss of body fluids.

4. You Might Have an Alcohol Addiction

Usually, amoxicillin is prescribed for 5 to 10 days. If it is quite difficult to stay away from alcohol for a few days in order to complete your amoxicillin regimen, you might have an underlying alcohol addiction. If you think you have an alcohol addiction, you should see your doctor for professional help.

Amoxicillin Side Effects

Amoxicillin has side effects of its own, some of which may be aggravated by the use of alcohol:

  • Gastrointestinal effects such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Chest pain due to difficulty in breathing
  • Flushed skin
  • Increased heart rate

Other Antibiotics and Alcohol

Taking alcohol while on medication is best avoided. That is why the patient information leaflets on many drugs come with the warning not to take them with alcohol.

When it comes to antibiotics though, some drugs like amoxicillin may not cause considerable harm especially with small quantities of alcohol. However, there are some antibiotics that can lead to very critical side effects when taken in combination with alcohol.

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Metronidazole (Flagyl) is reported to cause severe nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, rapid heart rate, hypotension (low blood pressure), thirst, chest pain and some other effects in what is known as a Disulfiram-like reaction.

Other drugs that can cause a Disulfiram-like reaction include tinidazole, benznidazole, and Septrin (Trimethoprim-Sulfamethoxazole combination). Erythromycin, when taken with alcohol, may lead to heightened intoxication which can cause serious alcohol poisoning.

Summary

It is not advisable to take alcohol when feeling unwell or on any medication, however, alcohol does not interact directly with amoxicillin and does not affect its efficacy.

Latest posts by Raliat Ola-Dauda, PharmD (see all)
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