Doxycycline and Alcohol - Reactions and Side Effects

Doxycycline and Alcohol – Reactions and Side Effects

Doxycycline is an antibiotic – a drug that wards off infection. It belongs to the Tetracycline class, a group that can inhibit the bacteria’s capacity to make proteins. Because of this effect, Doxycycline is taken to treat infections of the respiratory system, intestines, and urinary tract. It is also given to people who suffer from gum disease, acne, rosacea, gonorrhea, syphilis, and chlamydia.

Some types of Doxycycline are also used to treat anthrax, as well as infections brought about by mites, lice, or ticks. In a few cases, Doxycycline is even prescribed to prevent malaria.

Doxycycline and alcohol Don't Mix

Why You Shouldn’t Take Alcohol with Doxycycline

As with most medications, Doxycycline should not be taken with alcohol. Alcohol can hasten the elimination of the antibiotic from the body. According to the study by Neuvonen et al., alcohol intake can shorten Doxycycline’s half-life. On average, the drug can stay in the body for 14.7 hours. The half-life is reduced to as little as 10.5 hours when alcohol is taken.

Why is maintaining Doxycycline’s half-life important? For one, it refers to the duration of action of the drug inside the body. When a drug’s half-life is reduced, its ability to fight infections is shortened. That means you are going to need more doses to achieve the desired outcome. Not only is this bad for your health (see side effects below), it can be bad for your wallet as well. You may end up spending additional money just to get the full effects of Doxycycline.

Additionally, taking alcohol might make your disease symptoms worse. Infections usually come with weakness and dizziness. The severity of these might get doubled with alcohol intake.

As if that is not enough, alcohol might also worsen the side effects of Doxycycline (see below). Unless you want to feel worse than better, then you should avoid taking alcohol while you are undergoing antibiotic therapy.

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What You Need to Avoid While Taking Doxycycline

Apart from alcohol, there are other things that you need to avoid while you are undergoing Doxycycline therapy. As a general rule, those who are prescribed with the aforementioned antibiotic should not take it together with Isotretinoin (Accutane) and Warfarin. Doing so can lead to a severe medication interaction.

The following drugs should also be avoided 2 hours before or after taking Doxycycline:

  • Multivitamins
  • Iron Supplements
  • Calcium Supplements
  • Antacids
  • Laxatives
  • Other antibiotics that contain Doxycycline

Since Doxycycline can make you burn under the sun easily, you need to avoid the act of tanning (whether natural or artificial) for the time being. Should you need to go outside, you should wear sunscreen and other protective clothing (long-sleeved shirts, hats, etc.)

Side Effects of Doxycycline

As you undergo Doxycycline therapy for whatever infection you have, you may experience the following common side effects:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Upset stomach
  • Loss of appetite
  • Skin itching/rashes
  • Darkened skin color
  • Vaginal discharge/itching

While the above-mentioned side effects don’t warrant much medical attention, experiencing any of the following should prompt you to call your doctor:

  • Allergic reaction (facial/throat swelling, hives, or breathing difficulties)
  • Severe skin reaction (a red or purplish rash that blisters or peels, fever, flu-like symptoms, swollen glands, severe weakness, muscle aches, or yellowing of the eyes and skin)
  • Severe headaches
  • Pain behind the eyes
  • Vision problems
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Severe stomach pain
  • Watery or bloody diarrhea
  • Low white blood cell count (fever, weakness, body aches, pallor, chills, swollen glands, or easy bruising)
  • Liver problems (upper abdominal pain, loss of appetite, jaundice, dark urine, nausea, vomiting, or tiredness)
  • Little/no urination

Doxycycline for Children

Doxycycline can cause teeth discoloration (yellowing or graying) in children. As such, it should only be used to treat severe, life-threatening diseases (such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever or Anthrax) in children 8 years old and below. Otherwise, other types of antibiotics should be given.

Doxycycline during Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Given the drug’s effect on the teeth and bones, pregnant women should not be given Doxycycline. Apart from causing teeth discoloration later on in the unborn child, the medication can affect the baby’s bone development as well.

Since Doxycycline passes through breastmilk, nursing mothers are discouraged from taking this drug as well. Again, the drug might discolor the baby’s teeth later on.

Sexually-active women should know that Doxycycline can alter the effectiveness of birth control pills. As such, another form of contraception should be used throughout Doxycycline therapy.

Doxycycline: A Medication that Can Help Reduce Alcohol Consumption?

For the longest time, doctors have campaigned against drinking alcohol with antibiotics, such as Doxycycline. The ironic thing, however, is that research suggests that this drug might actually help reduce one’s consumption of alcohol.

A study by McIver et al. has shown that Doxycycline, when given to mice subjects, can help reduce alcohol intake. Consumption decreased by as much as 20% and 40% by the second and fourth hours respectively. It also made the mouse ‘more sensitive’ to alcohol’s motor-impairing effects.

As to why Doxycycline may help reduce alcohol consumption, it may be due to the medication’s anti-inflammatory nature. Scientific investigations suggest that alcoholism, as with other behavioral deviations, may be brought about by the inflammation of the nervous tissue (neuroinflammation). As such, when an anti-inflammatory agent such as Doxycycline is given, the swelling can be reduced. This helps change the behavior (such as alcohol addiction) that may have been caused by neuroinflammation.

While the study is indeed promising, it is important to note that this was done on mice and not on people. With that being said, taking Doxycycline outside its established used should not be tried without the go signal of your doctor.

Bottom Line

Doxycycline is a type of tetracycline antibiotic that can help cure a wide variety of infections. As with other drugs, Doxycycline should not be taken with alcohol. After all, the latter can shorten the half-life of the said medication. The body would be left with lesser amounts of the drug. Additionally, alcohol can worsen the symptoms of your present infection. Add to that, it can magnify the unpleasant side effects of Doxycycline as well.


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