The Risks of Mixing Amoxicillin And Alcohol


Published On: July 2, 2020

amoxicillin and alcohol

Most people are aware of the fact that drinking alcohol is not advised when taking a course of antibiotics. However, many of these people may not be aware of the reason for this. In this article, we are going to look into mixing amoxicillin and alcohol and what risks are associated with doing so.

What Is Amoxicillin And What Is It Used For?

Amoxicillin is a type of antibiotic medicine and can come in either tablet form or as an oral liquid. You may also hear it referred to as simply Amoxil. The medication is one of a much larger group which is used to fight infections.

It is commonly used to treat illnesses such as chest infections, UTI’s (urinary tract infections), ear infections and abscesses within the mouth. Usually, a course of antibiotics will last between 7 and 14 days.

What Are The Side Effects Of Amoxicillin?

As with any type of medication, there are some side effects that may be noticed when taking Amoxicillin. Some of the most common side effects that you may experience when taking the medication are:

  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Headaches
  • Effects on the tongue such as swelling or a ‘hairy’ feeling.
  • Vaginal itching
  • Skin rashes

Whilst these side effects are relatively common and manageable, there may be some more serious side effects which require medical attention. Things to look out for include:

  • Blood in the stool, especially with diarrhoea
  • Skin rashes which feature circular red patches
  • Pain in the joints or muscles
  • Bruising of the skin or other forms of discolouration
  • Darker coloured urine
  • Lighter coloured stool
  • Wheezing or difficulty breathing.

Is It Safe To Mix Amoxicillin And Alcohol?

When your doctor prescribes you a course of Amoxicillin, he or she will likely recommend that you abstain from drinking alcohol. Whilst it is safe to drink a little alcohol when taking this medication, Amoxicillin will work best without it.

There are some antibiotics which will have an adverse reaction when taken with alcohol, Amoxicillin is not one of them. If you find it difficult to quit drinking even if your medication requires, it’s important to seek professional help immediately.

Precautions Of Mixing Amoxicillin And Alcohol

The most important thing to remember when taking Amoxicillin is that abstaining from alcohol will give the medication the best chance at healing your infection. However, if you must drink alcohol, it is wise to consume it in moderation.

You should be aware of any side effects and pay special attention to these whilst drinking alcohol to ensure that they are not becoming any worse, or that new ones are not developing.

What Are The Potential Risks Of Drinking Alcohol When Taking Antibiotics?

One of the main risks of drinking alcohol with any anti-biotics, including Amoxicillin is that any side effects may be worsened. If you are feeling unwell as a result of your infection, it is a wise idea to avoid drinking alcohol whilst the body heals itself.

Below we have listed some of the most common risks associated with mixing alcohol and amoxicillin. These include:

1. The Immune System

Antibiotics work alongside our immune system as a way of giving it a boost when fighting an infection. However, when we drink alcohol this has a direct impact on the immune system, causing it to work to a much lesser ability than usual.

The white blood cells that heal infections are not as readily produced. This means that the Amoxicillin will not have as great a chance at doing its job.

2. Dangerous Interactions

There are many anti-biotics which can have very serious interactions with alcohol, often causing patients to suffer from severe vomiting and nausea, headaches and an irregular heartbeat. Whilst Amoxicillin is not thought to be one of the drugs that cause these reactions, it is still wise to be cautious.

If you are taking any of the following anti-biotics, alcohol should be completely avoided:

  • Metronidazole
  • Tinidazole
  • Linezolid

3. Potential Damage To Organs

There are some antibiotics which cause distress to our internal organs – namely the liver. As we know, alcohol is also responsible for liver damage and so combining the two can become something of a double-edged sword.

Amoxicillin is not one of the antibiotics that distresses the liver. However, it is wise to err on the side of caution. If you are taking Isoniazid, Rifampin or Pyrazinamide alcohol should not be ingested.

Can Alcohol Cancel Out The Effects Of Antibiotics?

Alcohol will not be solely responsible for your antibiotics losing their effects; however, it certainly can play a part in this. As we have already discussed, alcohol can lower the ability of the immune system to sufficiently fight infection and this can cause the antibiotics not to work to their full potential.

On top of this, alcohol can cause damage to the liver and if taken with antibiotics, it may cause a backup in the body which can lead to drug toxicity. This can be a potentially life-threatening condition.

Effects Of Alcohol On Healing From Infections

Even if Amoxicillin doesn’t have a direct effect on how quickly you can heal from an infection whilst using alcohol, there may be some side effects of combining the two that can.

For example, drinking alcohol can cause us to lose sleep quality. Rest is needed in order to heal and if we do not get enough, healing can take longer. What’s more, alcohol may cause the body to lose its ability to absorb vital nutrients which can play an essential part in the healing process, combining it with your antibiotics may have an impact on how quickly you recover.

How Long After Drinking Alcohol Can You Take Amoxicillin?

Discussing your needs with your doctor is the best way to determine whether it is safe to take Amoxicillin after drinking alcohol. Fit and healthy people can start a course of Amoxicillin after drinking alcohol. This type of antibiotic drug does not cause a dangerous interaction. That being said, avoiding alcohol is best.

Can I Skip A Day Of Antibiotics To Drink Alcohol?

Antibiotics taken for a short period of time are most effective when treatment is not interrupted. Therefore, you should not skip a day in order to drink alcohol.

If you miss a day of your antibiotics, the medication will not be able to work to its full potential and healing may take longer, at worst a second course of treatment may be required.

On top of this, if you continually avoid taking a full course of antibiotics, your body may develop a resistance to the drug making it less effective, or not effective at all in treating future health problems.

Conclusion

Amoxicillin is an antibiotic to treat infections. Whilst many of these types of drugs can cause dangerous interactions with alcohol, Amoxicillin is not one of them.

That being said, it is wise to avoid drinking alcohol whilst taking this medication as there are other effects it can have on your body that might slow down the healing process.

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References

[1] https://www.nhs.uk/medicines/amoxicillin/

[2] https://www.rxlist.com/amoxicillin-side-effects-drug-center.htm

[3] https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/medicines/can-i-drink-alcohol-while-taking-antibiotics/

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC444397/

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