What are the hidden risks of drinking while on antibiotics?

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Alcohol can be dangerous while on medication. Generally, doctors recommend avoiding alcohol while taking most antibiotics and drugs. Alcohol does not make an antibiotic less effective at treating an infection, but alcohol may make the side effects of both alcohol and antibiotics worse. These side effects can be dangerous.

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Effects of Alcohol:

  • Intake of alcohol can increase sugar levels in the blood. 
  • It can also stop your body from engrossing vital nutrients and reduces your energy levels.
  • Severe alcohol consumption and prolonged alcohol use can be harmful whether you take medication or not.
  • Alcohol can cause problems like stomach upset and digestive problems such as stomach pain, diarrhea, and ulcers.

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Side Effects of Antibiotics:

  • Dizziness, nausea, lightheadedness, sleepiness, and diarrhea are some common side effects of antibiotics. 

All these factors can reduce your body’s ability to heal from an infection. Combining alcohol and antibiotics can make all of these symptoms worse. This is especially true with certain types of antibiotics. 

Reactions when both are combined:

  • Trimethoprim and Sulfamethoxazole can lead to side effects like a fast heartbeat, warmness or redness of your skin, tingly feeling, nausea, and vomiting.
  • Metronidazole causes abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, headaches, flushing may occur; also possible with systemic absorption of vaginal cream.
  • Linezolid drug when interacted with alcohol can increase the risk of hypertensive crisis.
  • Tinidazole/ Cefotetan can lead to abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, headaches, flushing.
  • When Rifampin is taken with the combination of alcohol then it may increase the risk for liver toxicity.

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  • Isoniazid  can  increase the risk of liver toxicity if daily alcohol consumption
  • Cycloserine when mixed with a combination of alcohol it may increase the risk of central nervous system toxicity; possible seizures.
  • Ethionamide increases the risk of central nervous system toxicity; possible psychosis when interacted with alcohol.
  • Ketoconazole, when combined with alcohol, reacts which may include abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, headaches, flushing
  • There may be an increase in risk for liver toxicity when pyrazinamide is taken with alcohol.
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