Antibiotics and alcohol can cause similar side effects, such as stomach upset, dizziness and drowsiness. Combining antibiotics and alcohol can increase these side effects.
A few antibiotics — such as metronidazole (Flagyl), tinidazole (Tindamax) and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim, Septra) — should not be mixed with alcohol because this may result in a more severe reaction. Drinking any amount of alcohol with these medications can result in side effects such as flushing, headache, nausea and vomiting, and rapid heart rate.
Keep in mind that some cold medicines and mouthwashes also contain alcohol. So check the label and avoid such products while taking these antibiotics.
Although alcohol doesn't reduce the effectiveness of most antibiotics, it can reduce your energy and delay how quickly you recover from illness. So, it's a good idea to avoid alcohol until you finish your antibiotics and are feeling better.
Jan. 16, 2015
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- Steckelberg JM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dec. 10, 2014.
- Flagyl (prescribing information). New York, N.Y.: Pfizer Inc.; 2013. http://labeling.pfizer.com/ShowLabeling.aspx?id=570. Accessed Dec. 10, 2014.
- Tindamax (prescribing information). San Antonio, Texas: Mission Pharmacal Co.; 2014. http://docs.missionpharmacal.com/assets/package_inserts/tindamax.pdf. Accessed Dec.10, 2014.
- Bactrim and alcohol. Micromedex 2.0 Healthcare Series. http://www.micromedexsolutions.com. Accessed Dec. 10, 2014.
- Bactrim (prescribing information). Philadelphia, Pa.: Mutual Pharmaceutical Co.; 2013. http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2014/017377s074lbl.pdf. Accessed Dec. 10, 2014.
- Septra (prescribing information). New York, N.Y.: Pfizer Inc.; 2013. http://labeling.pfizer.com/ShowLabeling.aspx?id=706. Accessed Dec. 10, 2014.