Are you wondering if it is safe to mix Amoxicillin and alcohol?
Amoxicillin and other penicillin derivatives are the most common form of antibiotic prescribed for infections in the United States.
If you have ever been prescribed Amoxicillin, you’ve probably noticed the warning label on the side of the bottle that reads “Do not take in combination with alcohol.”
Due to the significant number of warnings that appear on drug labels these days, patients commonly ask whether this particular warning is a legitimate concern or whether it is overstated.
Can You Safely Drink Alcohol While Taking Amoxicillin?
No, it will cause some fairly uncomfortable side effects.
The major risk is a decrease in the effectiveness of the Amoxicillin in treating the infection for which it was prescribed.
This risk derives from the fact that the same enzymes are used to break down both penicillin-based drugs and alcohol in the blood stream. When too much alcohol is in the blood stream, it inhibits those enzymes, slowing down the rate at which penicillin derivatives are broken down, resulting in decreased effectiveness of the drug and potential drug toxicity.
If the question is whether Amoxicillin will cause death when mixed with alcohol, the answer to that question is no, unless one or both are taken in large amounts.
Both Amoxicillin and alcohol use can independently result in death, especially when taken in excess or when the patient has an unknown allergy to penicillin derivatives, but the combination of the two drugs does not meaningfully increase that risk.
What are the Side Effects of Mixing Amoxicillin and Alcohol?
Due to both drug toxicity and standard interactions between the two types of drugs, numerous side effects are common when alcohol and Amoxicillin are used at the same time.
The most common side effects of mixing amoxicillin and alcohol include:
- Vomiting, nausea, or diarrhea
- Dehydration, often resulting from the above side effect and exacerbated by alcohol
- Flushed skin
- Increased heart rate which can also lead to difficulty breathing
- Chest pain, possibly resulting from difficulty breathing
Besides the unpleasant feelings, these side effects put a further strain on the body, which hinders the healing process by forcing the body to spend resources dealing with these side effects, rather than healing the infection.
It is unlikely to be life threatening, but it will increase the time it takes for you to fully recover from whatever sickness that the Amoxicillin was prescribed for in the first place.
How Much Alcohol is Too Much?
Doctors universally agree that any amount of alcohol, even as little as a single glass of wine, is too much while you are on any antibiotic, including Amoxicillin.
Dehydration and nausea kick in almost as soon as any amount of alcohol enters the system and these two side effects take a toll on the body and the ability to heal.
Doctors recommend that patients simply avoid any alcohol while taking antibiotics.
In particular, because antibiotics are often prescribed for infections that produce cold-like symptoms, patients should carefully read the labels of over-the-counter medicines to be certain that they don’t include any alcohol.
And for the roughly 5% of patients in the United States that are active alcoholics, the best way to avoid a prolonged and unpleasant healing process is to inform your doctor of your alcoholism when the antibiotic is prescribed. This will allow your doctor to help you safely take the medicine.