Is It Safe to Mix Antibiotics with Alcohol?

It is conventional wisdom that you should avoid combining antibiotics with alcohol due to the possibility for adverse effects. While alcohol does not often reduce the effectiveness of antibiotics, it can cause unpleasant side effects that, when paired with alcohol's unfavourable effect on the immune system, might hinder recovery.

Find out why you shouldn't drink alcohol while taking antibiotics, as well as the usual adverse effects of combining the two and the influence alcohol has on your immune system.

It’s Important to Avoid Drinking Alcohol on Antibiotics

The majority of antibiotics include a warning against consuming alcohol while taking this drug, although there is still some uncertainty surrounding this problem.

When you consume alcohol, your body must immediately break it down because it has nowhere to store it. This process generates acetaldehyde, which can induce nausea. This issue can be exacerbated by the addition of alcohol, as feeling ill or experiencing digestive troubles is a common adverse effect of certain antibiotics.

Antibiotics and alcohol have been proven to have the potential to impair cognitive function, such as causing disorientation or brain fog. In addition, alcohol consumption interferes badly with other critical physiological systems. For instance, it might lead to dehydration and poor sleep, both of which are essential for healing

Due to these concerns, it is not recommended to consume alcohol while taking antibiotics.

Does Alcohol Reduce Antibiotic Effectiveness?

In most instances, it is not believed that alcohol renders antibiotics ineffective, but the combination of the two can cause unpleasant side effects that may make it more difficult for your body to recover. Particular adverse effects will vary depending on which antibiotic you take, but may include the following:

  • Nausea
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Digestive upset e.g., diarrhoea

Signs of a negative reaction from mixing alcohol and antibiotics can include:

  • Racing heartbeat
  • Severe headache
  • Red skin that is warm to touch

In certain instances, if a substantial amount of alcohol is ingested and present in the bloodstream, it may also reduce the efficiency of the antibiotics. The liver breaks down alcohol using enzymes, and certain antibiotics are also broken down by the same or comparable enzymes. Changes in these enzymes may therefore affect how antibiotics are broken down in the body.

If you take a high amount of alcohol in a short period of time, these enzymes will be less effective at breaking down antibiotics. This implies that the quantities of antibiotics in your body may grow because they have not been effectively metabolised, which can lead to increased drug toxicity and side effects.

Similarly, if you use alcohol daily, enzyme levels can be induced. This means that the antibiotic is broken down too quickly, causing blood levels to decrease. This may cause the infection to persist or drug resistance.

The Effects of Alcohol on the Immune System

Frequent alcohol consumption can have a variety of negative effects on the immune system and increase susceptibility to infection. It can also increase your susceptibility to infections caused by bacteria and viruses, which could increase your risk of bacterial illnesses such as urinary tract infections.

To comprehend the function of alcohol, one must first comprehend the immune system. It consists of a network of cells and proteins that detect and destroy pathogens. Typically, it takes a while for the immune system to build up to a full reaction, and during this period, symptoms worsen as the infection progresses. If your immune system has generated a strong enough response to battle the infection, however, you should begin to recover.

Because alcohol lowers the immune system, it can take the body longer to detect and respond to developing infections. Because of this, drinking can cause symptoms to linger longer and become more acute.

Most people are aware that long-term alcohol misuse can cause damage to the immune system, but even short-term alcohol consumption can cause difficulties. A single drinking episode can weaken the immune system for around 24 hours.

Long-term alcohol consumption might exacerbate existing difficulties. Chronic alcohol consumption has complex effects on the immune system, but research has shown that it affects virtually every immune system component and considerably raises the risk of developing infections. In addition to inhibiting every part of the immune system, these long-term immune system modifications can induce chronic inflammation, which is accompanied by its own adverse effects and medical problems.

Researchers have discovered a link between excessive alcohol consumption and a variety of adverse health outcomes, such as an increased risk of acute respiratory stress syndromes, sepsis, liver toxicity resulting in alcoholic liver disease, and certain cancers, as well as a higher incidence of postoperative complications, a slower and less complete recovery from infection and physical trauma, and poor wound healing. Alcohol disrupts immunological pathways in a variety of perplexing, but ultimately detrimental, ways. This disruption hinders your body's ability to defend against infection and recuperate from tissue damage.

If you are a heavy drinker, the best method to safeguard your immune system is to get assistance and abstain from alcohol.

What Happens if You Drink Alcohol with Antibiotics?

In the majority of instances, as described above, consuming alcohol will not prevent your antibiotic from fighting the infection. But alcohol can hinder your recovery in a number of ways, which is why it is generally advised that you avoid drinking while on antibiotics.

Infection recovery involves relaxation, quality sleep, and proper diet. Consuming alcohol can make it more difficult to adhere to these recovery fundamentals. For instance, alcohol impairs the quality of sleep that can be obtained. Hence, even if you do fall asleep, you will frequently awaken throughout the night, depriving your body of the necessary rest.

In addition to preventing your body from obtaining the nutrients it needs from food, alcohol use can increase your blood sugar levels and leave you feeling tired. Again, this is highly harmful in the context of infection recovery. Note that alcohol is present in more than just wine, beer, and spirits; it is also present in mouthwashes and cold treatments. If you have previously encountered a negative reaction while combining alcohol and antibiotics, this is something to keep in mind.

If you have consumed alcohol while taking antibiotics and are experiencing a side effect, it should typically subside within a few hours. But, if it lasts longer than this or is severe, it is imperative to seek immediate medical attention.

Are There Any Antibiotics You Can Drink With?

Although it is advisable to avoid alcohol when you are already feeling bad due to an illness, it is unlikely that moderate alcohol consumption would induce an adverse reaction to your medications. Certain routinely prescribed medications will not lose efficacy with modest alcohol consumption. Included among these are flucloxacillin and amoxicillin.

Even though moderate drinking shouldn't affect the efficacy of these popular antibiotics, it may nonetheless hinder healing, place stress on the liver, cause dehydration, and increase the chance of side effects or exacerbate them.

Therefore, you must exercise additional caution and avoid all alcohol when taking the following antibiotics:

This antibiotic is occasionally used to treat dental or vaginal infections, skin infections, infected leg ulcers, and pressure ulcers.

Tinidazole: This antibiotic is used to treat many of the same infections as metronidazole, but it can also help eliminate Helicobacter pylori from the digestive tract.

What to Do Next

Avoid mixing alcohol with antibiotics at all costs. In spite of the fact that antibiotic side effects may be enhanced by alcohol consumption, it is prudent to avoid alcohol when ill. When your body is fighting an infection, it is ideal to provide it with quality sleep, rest, and nourishment.

If uncertain, consult your healthcare provider. When antibiotics are recommended, your healthcare professional should explain how to take them most successfully. Your prescription should also carry a warning label that includes advice regarding consuming alcohol while taking it.

If you have any questions about the specifics of your antibiotics, consult your doctor or chemist. They will be able to provide you with a personalised response that takes into account your medical history, age, and current state of health, as well as the type of antibiotic you have been prescribed.

Your doctor will likely advise you to abstain from alcohol while you are taking your medicine, and they can also tell you for how long you should abstain after you have completed your course of antibiotics. In some instances, it may take up to 72 hours, therefore it is always prudent to verify.

It is in your best interest to respect the advice of your physician or chemist in order to avoid the unpleasant effects of any alcohol-drug combination. Contact Abhasa for any assistance.

Prepared by: Mr. Denny Prasad, Psychologist
LinkedIn Id: https://www.linkedin.com/in/denny-prasad-b55028124