Can I drink alcohol if I am taking antibiotics?
If you are unwell, it is a good idea to avoid drinking alcohol until you feel better.
Drinking alcohol in moderation is unlikely to be a problem with most antibiotics but there are some exceptions.
Ask a health professional if you’re unsure whether you can drink alcohol when you are taking antibiotics.
Avoid drinking alcohol if you are taking these antibiotics:
- metronidazole (brand names include: Flagyl, Metrogyl, Metronide)
- tinidazole (brand names: Fasigyn, Simplotan).
Avoid drinking alcohol while taking these antibiotics and for at least 24 hours after you have finished your prescribed course of metronidazole, and at least 72 hours after you stop taking tinidazole.
Drinking alcohol with metronidazole or tinidazole can cause a severe reaction, including:
- skin flushing
- fast or irregular heart beat.
Note about medicines names
Most medicines have two names: the active ingredient and the brand name. The active ingredient is the chemical in the medicine that makes it work. The brand name is the name given to the medicine by its manufacturer. There may be several brands that contain the same active ingredient. This website uses active ingredient names (e.g. amoxycillin), with brand names in brackets and with a capital letter (e.g. Amoxil). We also discuss medicines in groups or ‘classes’, when their effects or actions are very similar.
Who can I ask about side effects?
If you’re concerned that you or someone in your care may have had side effects related to a medicine, seek medical advice. To report and discuss possible side effects, call the Adverse Medicines Events Line on 1300 134 237 from anywhere in Australia (Monday–Friday, 9am–5pm).
Other antibiotics that may interact with alcohol
Your chance of stomach upset, drowsiness or dizziness with some antibiotics may also be increased by alcohol. Ask your health professional for advice if you’re unsure.
Co-trimoxazole is used to prevent and treat whooping cough and other bacterial infections. Drinking large amounts of alcohol with co-trimoxazole (also called trimethoprim with sulfamethoxazole; e.g. Bactrim, Resprim) can cause a similar reaction to that seen with metronidazole or tinidazole (see above), but this is rare.
Avoid drinking wine, beer, sherry or lager with linezolid (Zyvox; used to treat serious infections when other antibiotics are not suitable). These drinks are rich in tyramine which can interact with linezolid to raise your blood pressure. Other tyramine-rich foods that should be avoided with linezolid include mature cheese, soy sauce, and yeast and meat extracts.
Phone for medicines information
Call the NPS Medicines Line on 1300 MEDICINE (1300 633 424) to get information about your prescription, over-the-counter and complementary medicines (herbal, ‘natural’, vitamin and mineral supplements) from a pharmacist. Your call will be answered by healthdirect Australia (except Queensland and Victoria).
- Rossi S, ed. Australian Medicines Handbook [online]. Adelaide:AMH. January 2012.