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Combining alcohol and antibiotics may increase the risk of drug interactions. Some of the antibiotics that may negatively interact with alcohol include ceftriaxone, griseofulvin, and metronidazole. These interactions may cause vomiting, headaches, and digestive upset. Also, if you are taking antibiotics because you are sick, it is probably best to avoid alcohol until you feel better.

Effects of Alcohol on Antibiotics: An Overview

There is a widespread myth that alcohol makes all antibiotics less effective. However, this is simply not the case. While there may be other reasons to avoid alcohol while you are sick, alcohol does not interact with most antibiotics. There are only a few antibiotics that are known to interact with alcohol.

Which Antibiotics Interact With Alcohol?

The following antibiotics may potentially cause negative effects when taken with alcohol:
It is "common knowledge" that alcohol and metronidazole interact in a severe or even dangerous way. Even the prescribing information for metronidazole warns of the possible interaction, stating that consuming alcohol while taking this medication (or even within three days of taking it) may cause the following side effects:
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Flushing
  • Headaches
  • Digestive upset.
However, recent clinical studies have failed to demonstrate a significant drug interaction between metronidazole and alcohol. Despite the lack of a demonstrated interaction, your healthcare provider and pharmacist will probably still warn you to avoid alcohol while taking this drug. This is probably a good idea, although for other reasons than the presumed interaction (that is, it is not wise to drink alcohol while recovering from an infection). Most of the supposed effects of the metronidazole/alcohol interaction can be attributed to just the metronidazole.
Ceftriaxone and griseofulvin have also been reported to cause similar reactions.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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