Mixing Alcohol and Antibiotics

By James Madeiros


Alcohol + Antibiotics = ?

“Antibiotics” is a general term used for a class of drugs that fight infection and prevent the growth of bacteria in the body. This variety is what makes it hard to say whether drinking alcohol while taking antibiotics is safe, or hampers the effect of the antibiotic.

The good news is that alcohol does not adversely affect the bacteria-fighting power of most antibiotics. It’s one less thing to worry about, but it is by far not the most important thing, because mixing the two can make you sick.

Again this is good news, because the greatest risk is still rather low, amounting to irregular heartbeat, low blood pressure and breathlessness. Milder side effects include dizziness, sleepiness and nausea. It is rare that mixing alcohol and antibiotics result in death, unless it is due to a contributing factor.

There are a few antibiotics, though, that warrant particular caution, because they are more likely to result in these side effects, and combing them with alcohol can interrupt the effect of other antibiotics that would otherwise work:

• Atabrine (quinacrine hydrochloride) – for treating malaria
• Bactrim (sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim) – for treating ear/urinary tract infections
• Flagyl (metronidazole) – for treating non-specific anaerobic and protozoan infections
• Furoxone (furazolidone) – for treating bacteria-induced diarrhea
• Grisactin (griseofulvin) – for treating ringworm and fungal infections
• Tindamax (tinidazole) – for treating non-specific amoebic and protozoan infections

This set of antibiotics treats a wide variety of infections, and it is possible that if you are taking an antibiotic it is one of these. Reactive medications will be clearly marked by the pharmacy, and if so those warning should be heeded to avoid unpleasantness and the possible unchecked spread of infection.


Of course, I should remind everyone that our blog entries are for your information only and are not intended as medical advice. Because everyone is different, you should work with your medical professional to determine what’s best for you. If you’re going to drink, do it legally and responsibly; don’t be stupid =).

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