Alcohol and Amoxicillin - Is It Safe to Drink While Taking Antibiotics?

Alcohol and Amoxicillin – Is It Safe to Drink While Taking Antibiotics?

Antibiotics are a group of medications that can help treat infections caused by bacteria. They work by killing the infective organism – or by stopping the pathogens from reproducing.

Like most drugs, it can interact with other medications, food, and alcohol, of course. If you are thinking of drinking liquor while you are on antibiotics – specifically Amoxicillin – then the information below should you decide whether it’s a good idea or not.

What is Amoxicillin?

What is Amoxicillin?

Amoxicillin is an antibiotic that works by stopping bacterial growth. It is a type of penicillin, an antibiotic derived from the penicillium fungi. Though this type of drug was already discovered by Alexander Fleming in 1928, it took more than a decade before it was officially used to treat infections.

Currently, Amoxicillin is used to deal with the following conditions:

  • Pneumonia, an inflammation of the air sacs
  • Bronchitis, an infection of the airways
  • Ear, nose, or throat infections
  • Skin infections
  • Urinary tract infections

Amoxicillin comes in various forms. They include capsules, tablets, chewable tablets, extended-release tablets, and powder for suspension.

Side Effects

Like most drugs, Amoxicillin intake bears some side effects. The most common complaints are the following:

  • Nervous system: taste changes, headaches
  • Psychiatric: anxiety, sleeping difficulties, confusion, behavior changes, agitation, hallucinations
  • Immunologic: allergic reaction (anaphylaxis)
  • Hematologic: low red blood cell count (anemia), low white blood cell count (leukopenia), other changes in lab results
  • Metabolic: low potassium levels (hypokalemia)
  • Respiratory: difficulty of breathing, airway narrowing (bronchospasms)
  • Gastrointestinal: nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea
  • Genitourinary: fungal infection in females (vulvovaginal mycotic infection)
  • Dermatologic: rashes (exanthema), redness (erythema)
  • Musculoskeletal: joint pain (arthralgia)
  • Infections: Candidiasis and other fungal problems

How to Take Amoxicillin

The key to treating your infection is to take your antibiotics (such as Amoxicillin) accordingly. You need to take the prescribed dose at the times/intervals recommended by your physician.

If you are prescribed with an Amoxicillin oral suspension, make sure to shake the bottle well. Make it a point to measure your dose with a medicine cup or any calibrated item in your home. You can store your medication in the fridge afterward, but only for 2 weeks. Otherwise, you need to discard it and get a new one.

Amoxicillin comes in various tablet forms, and as such should be taken according to manufacturer specifications. Chewable tablets should, of course, be chewed. They are in contrast to the usual capsules, tablets, especially the extended-release form. You should not chew or crush these types of pills. Take it whole, as it is.

You can take your antibiotics with or without food, depending on the brand/type of Amoxicillin you are taking. Check the leaflet/insert for the important details.

Most importantly, avoid skipping doses or discontinuing your medications abruptly should you ‘feel better.’ This will make you more vulnerable to worse types of infections.

Useful Tips and Precautions

Before you start taking Amoxicillin, you need to consult with your doctor if you have any of the following: penicillin or other food/drug allergies, kidney disease, antibiotic-related diarrhea, or mononucleosis (kissing disease). If you are pregnant or planning to become one, you need to tell your physician as well.

Amoxicillin can interact with certain drugs, so you need to tell your doctor if you are taking any of the Cephalosporins (Ceftin, Cefzil, Omnicef, etc.)

It can lessen the effectiveness of birth control pills as well. As such, you need to make use of other methods, such as a condom or diaphragm, while you are taking the said antibiotic.

Amoxicillin can also affect the action of some drugs, such as that of allopurinol, probenecid, blood thinners, and other antibiotics. Herbal products and vitamins may affect the drug’s performance as well, so you need to tell your doctor if you are taking any of the aforementioned meds and supplements.

Can I Drink Alcohol While on Amoxicillin?

While alcohol has no untoward interaction with Amoxicillin, UK’s National Health Services believes it best to avoid drinking while taking the said drug. Consuming alcohol is generally discouraged in someone who is fighting an infection for these reasons:

1. It may get in the way of the body’s natural healing process.

Alcohol use can impair your immunity, which is bad news because the body is already under the stress as it battles an infection. According to a study by Trevejo-Nunez et al., alcohol can impair the absorption of zinc, a mineral that strengthens the immune system. It can also lead to lower numbers of natural killer cells, which are vital in controlling the microbial infections in the body. Because of these effects, alcohol can retard recovery – even if you’re already taking Amoxicillin for your infection.

2. Alcohol drinking may lead to dehydration.

Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it can eliminate water from the body at a faster rate. Such can lead to dehydration, which can be bad if you have an infection – even if you’re taking Amoxicillin to cure it. According to Popkin et al., a dehydrated state can take a toll on the kidneys since they need to expend more energy to become more efficient. Such can be a barrier to healing. The wasted energy could have been used by the body for the more important recuperation process.

3. It may interrupt your sleeping patterns.

While alcohol can make you feel drowsy right away, the National Sleep Foundation states that it can actually lead to poor sleep quality. It can block REM sleep, which best rejuvenates the body. To wit, alcohol can bring about poor and inadequate sleep that can further impair your immunity.

Insomnia is also a common side effect of amoxicillin. Drinking liquor can further complicate the situation. It is vital to get some sleep, especially if you are suffering from an infection. While amoxicillin is good in fighting bacteria, it needs the help of a good immune system to be able to combat pathogens effectively.

In a Nutshell

Amoxicillin is a drug that can kill and stop the reproduction of bacteria. It is useful in a variety of diseases, such as pneumonia and bronchitis, to name a few. While it does not interact with alcohol, it is best if the latter is not taken with Amoxicillin. After all, alcohol can lead to certain body changes that can get in the way of antibiotic treatment.

Latest posts by Raychel Ria Agramon, BSN, RN, MPM (see all)

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