Antibiotics and Alcohol: The Not-So-Dynamic Duo

Cliff’s Notes Version: Don’t mix antibiotics and alcohol.

That’s the long and the short of the topic; however, if you want to learn why you shouldn’t mix antibiotics and alcohol, keep reading!

It’s probably safe to say that at some point in your life, you’ve taken an antibiotic, which is a type of medicine that inhibits the growth of or destroys microorganisms in your body.

On just about any prescription label for an antibiotic, you’ll read, a line of text that tells you to avoid alcohol consumption while taking the antibiotic.

Which probably leads many to think, why?

Antibiotics and Alcohol: The Not-So-Dynamic Duo

Side-Effects of Consuming Alcohol While on Antibiotics 

Alcohol consumption while on an antibiotic could potentially lead to health risks like dehydration and could affect your body’s natural ability to heal on its own. Furthermore, there are common side effects when antibiotics and alcohol are mixed such as dizziness, drowsiness, and nausea.

These sorts of reactions are due to the fact that alcohol acts as central nervous system depressant.

In some cases, however, the side effects can be more severe.

For example, when metronidazole (Flagyl), an antibiotic that’s commonly used to treat infections such as respiratory infections to skin/joint and gastrointestinal infections is mixed with alcohol, a reaction known as a “disulfiram-like reaction” can occur.

This reaction causes breathlessness, headaches, nausea, rapid heartbeat, stomach cramps, and vomiting.

Now that we’ve covered some potential side effects, here’s the more technical explanation of what exactly happens when antibiotics and alcohol are mixed.

What Happens in the Body When Antibiotics and Alcohol are Mixed?

When alcohol is consumed, it’s broken down in the liver by an enzyme. This same enzyme also breaks down drugs in the body.

Now, depending on the amount and frequency that alcohol is consumed, the enzyme could in time, affect how drugs in your body are broken down.

When alcohol is consumed, the enzyme can’t metabolize the drugs as efficiently and effectively as it should.

This means that the levels of the drug in your body could potentially increase due to the fact that it’s not being fully broken down and then excreted which in turn could lead to drug toxicity and unwanted side effects.

Does Alcohol Weaken the Effectiveness of an Antibiotic? 

Alcohol doesn’t always reduce the effectiveness of the antibiotic, however, it can decrease your energy and delay the recovery time of the particular illness you’re trying to fight.

This all leads us to the statement we started with.

Don’t mix antibiotics and alcohol.

When prescribed an antibiotic, do your best to avoid alcohol until your prescription is finished and you’re feeling better.

NOTE: For an antibiotic to fully work, you must finish all doses of the prescription. Even if you’re started to feel better, complete the prescription.

If you have any further questions, stop in or give us a call. We’d be happy to help!