15 March 2011

ask the doctor: alcohol & antibiotics?

Dr John Ferguson sheds light on a widely distributed medical myth.



It is a common misconception that alcohol will stop antibiotics from working. This is not the case. Many years ago during a forced stint in the Sexual Health Clinic at the Public Hospital (as a doctor) we were informed by our seniors to tell patients not to drink whilst on antibiotics.

The rationale for this was not that the antibiotics were made ineffective rather the attending physician’s concern was that patients who were intoxicated would forget to take their antibiotics and therefore would not manage to clear their disease and go on to infect others.

There are however two commonly prescribed antibiotics which one should avoid when drinking.

The first is Doxycycline. This antibiotic is metabolized in the liver along the same pathway as alcohol. Therefore if one drinks whilst taking it one will become intoxicated much more rapidly than usual to the extent that often one glass might be sufficient to cause you to make an Ivan of yourself.

The second is Metronidazole, which reacts with alcohol to cause significant nausea.

The other commonly prescribed antibiotics such as Augmentin, Ceclor and Flucloxacillin are not particularly affected by alcohol.

Any proceeds from additional alcohol sales in the next few weeks can be sent to Denizen’s favourite charity.

This Month On Denizen | September 2014