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Can You Drink Alcohol on Amoxicillin?

cartoon hands holding up alcoholic drinks

Amoxicillin is a penicillin-like antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections in adults and children. It’s been available in the US since 1980, and more than 50 million prescriptions of amoxicillin are written every year. Given the extensive use of amoxicillin and other antibiotics, healthcare professionals are frequently asked—Can I drink alcohol with my antibiotic? This article will discuss whether it is safe to drink alcohol while taking amoxicillin. 

What is amoxicillin?

Amoxicillin is a broad-spectrum antibiotic used to treat various bacterial infections such as skin infections, respiratory infections, urinary tract infections, dental infections, and ear, nose, and throat infections. 

It is available in both generic and brand name forms (Amoxil, Moxatag). Amoxicillin is taken by mouth and comes in the form of a capsule, tablet, chewable tablet, and liquid suspension. Sometimes, amoxicillin is combined with another active ingredient, potassium clavulanate (for example, in Augmentin)—this combination is even more effective in treating bacterial infections.

Taking antibiotics, including amoxicillin, does not cure viral or fungal infections. 

What are the side effects of amoxicillin?

The most common side effects of amoxicillin are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, upset stomach, taste changes, and headache

Rarely, amoxicillin can cause more severe side effects such as rash, itching, hives, skin blisters or peeling, wheezing, difficulty breathing or swallowing, and swelling of the face, eyes, throat, tongue, or lips. These can be signs and symptoms of a severe allergic reaction. You should stop amoxicillin and contact your doctor for professional treatment advice if they occur.

Antibiotic use can increase the risk of severe diarrhea (watery or bloody stools) with or without stomach cramps and/or fever. This can occur up to 2 months after finishing amoxicillin treatment.

You should contact your doctor or seek emergency medical attention if you experience severe reactions or unusual symptoms while on amoxicillin.

Does drinking alcohol affect the ability of amoxicillin to treat bacterial infections?

Many people wonder if they need to avoid drinking alcohol if their doctor prescribes amoxicillin. The short answer is no, you do not have to avoid alcohol completely.

Mixing amoxicillin and alcohol does not affect the effectiveness of amoxicillin. However, your doctor probably recommends you avoid alcohol or reduce your alcohol intake so that your body is in good shape to fight and recover from an infection. 

What are the risks of mixing alcohol and amoxicillin?

There is no known interaction between alcohol and amoxicillin. Drinking alcohol while taking amoxicillin does not typically cause a severe reaction. However, alcohol intake during amoxicillin treatment can worsen some of the side effects of amoxicillin, such as nausea and stomach discomfort.

Also, alcohol can weaken your immune system and lead to dehydration, making it harder for your body to fight infections.

In a nutshell, consuming alcohol in moderation is safe, and you don’t need to avoid alcohol entirely while on amoxicillin. However, keep in mind that avoid drinking alcohol will definitely help speeding up the recovery time from the infection. 

If you are struggling with alcohol abuse or another substance use disorder, talk to your doctor about treatment options, including alcohol rehab. Heavy alcohol use can cause serious complications when mixed with other medications.

Note: Alcohol use during treatment with certain antimicrobial agents like metronidazole (Flagyl) and fluconazole (Diflucan) can be severely bothersome and even dangerous. The combination can cause serious side effects such as rapid heart rate, sudden changes in blood pressure, stomach pain, headache, and facial flushing. A large amount of alcohol combined with fluconazole can possibly cause liver damage. 

What food should you avoid while on amoxicillin?

Amoxicillin does not have any known interactions with foods or drinks, so you can continue your usual diet while you’re on this antibiotic. 

Taking Amoxicillin Safely

Here are some precautions you should follow while taking amoxicillin:

  • Tell your doctor if you have a penicillin allergy, including amoxicillin and other antibiotics in this class.
  • Also, inform your doctor of any other drug allergy that you have
  • Give your doctor a complete list of all your other medications, including prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines, supplements, and herbal products. This can help avoid serious drug interactions.
  • Tell your doctor about all your underlying conditions. Amoxicillin may not be suitable for people with certain health conditions.
  • Take amoxicillin at the recommended dosage, exactly as prescribed. If you do not understand the doctor's instructions, ask your pharmacist for further guidance. Do not take amoxicillin at a higher or lower dose or for a longer or shorter duration than prescribed.
  • Finish all the amoxicillin your doctor prescribes, even if you start to feel better after the first few doses. Failure to take all of the medicine can cause treatment failure and make it harder to treat the same infection in the future. This is true for all antibiotics.
  • Watch out for signs and symptoms of a severe allergic reaction, such as swelling of the face, throat, tongue, and shortness of breath. Also, be vigilant for a serious complication called C.Diff associated diarrhea which can occur up to 2 months after your last dose of amoxicillin.

Pharmacist Tips for Amoxicillin Treatment

  • You can take amoxicillin with or without food. However, the side effects of amoxicillin, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach discomfort, are sometimes worse if the medicine is taken on an empty stomach. If you experience these side effects, taking amoxicillin with food might help.
  • Mixing amoxicillin and alcohol is typically safe. Therefore, drinking a beer or a glass of red wine while taking amoxicillin is unlikely to cause severe reactions.  However, alcohol causes dehydration and weakens the immune system, making it harder for your body to fight infections. Therefore, drinking alcohol while taking antibiotics may slow down the recovery speed from an infection.

References:

  1. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a685001.html
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3198295/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31643191/
  4. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/harmful-interactions-mixing-alcohol-with-medicines