Amoxicillin is an antibiotic used to help treat bacterial infections in both adults and children.
It’s been available for decades, and is one of the most commonly prescribed of all medications: More than 50 million prescriptions for amoxicillin are filled in the United States each year.
Sometimes when your doctor prescribes amoxicillin, you may not feel run down or sick—for example, amoxicillin can be prescribed for certain urinary tract infections or dental infections.
In these cases, you may wonder if it’s OK to drink alcohol while you’re taking the medication, or if drinking can affect the medicine’s efficacy or cause side effects.
Drinking alcohol while taking amoxicillin could slow the rate of the medicine’s absorption, and can make side effects worse.
In this article, I’ll tell you more about amoxicillin, and explain in greater detail how alcohol can interact with the medication.
I’ll also tell you whether or not you should drink while taking this antibiotic, and when to talk to your doctor.
What is Amoxicillin?
Amoxicillin is a prescription-only antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections.
It is not effective against viral or fungal infections.
Amoxicillin is called a broad-spectrum antibiotic because it’s effective against a wide range of bacterial infections. Popular amoxicillin brands include Amoxil, Moxilin, and Amoxicot.
Amoxicillin can be taken orally, as a capsule, tablet, liquid, or chewable tablet.
Amoxicillin can be combined with potassium clavulanate (another active ingredient) in the form of amoxicillin-potassium clavulanate for better efficacy.
How Alcohol Affects Amoxicillin
A study showed that amoxicillin has a slower absorption rate when taken with alcohol.
This means that amoxicillin doesn’t work as fast as it should with alcohol.
However, the study showed that alcohol intake doesn’t affect the extent of absorption.
This means that amoxicillin is effective with alcohol—just not as fast-acting.
Common side effects of mixing alcohol and amoxicillin
There are no reported side effects specifically from drinking alcohol while on amoxicillin.
But alcohol use could increase common amoxicillin side effects such as nausea and abdominal discomfort.
While moderate alcohol consumption is safe while on amoxicillin, alcohol use weakens your immune system and can contribute to dehydration—both of which can make your illness last longer.
Alcohol use should be avoided or minimized whenever you are sick or taking an antibiotic.
Other antibiotics, such as metronidazole, can cause serious side effects when consumed with alcohol.
Amoxicillin does not have any severe side effects when taken with alcoholic drinks, but drinking while on medication comes with some risks:
- A weaker immune system: Alcohol weakens your immune system, which may reduce amoxicillin’s effectiveness. Alcohol is also known to slow healing and recovery time, meaning it will take longer to get better.
- Increased nausea: One of amoxicillin’s side effects is nausea. Drinking alcohol while on amoxicillin or other antibiotics can worsen these feelings of nausea.
It’s best to abstain from alcohol while taking any medication to avoid interference with drug therapy.
When Can You Drink After Finishing Amoxicillin?
It is relatively safe to drink alcohol while taking amoxicillin, so there’s no specific period of alcohol abstinence you should follow.
To be safe, wait between 48 and 72 hours after completing amoxicillin before drinking any alcohol.
You should also wait until all symptoms of your infection have cleared, since alcohol use can delay healing.
When to See a Doctor
If you think you or someone else has consumed too much alcohol and amoxicillin, watch out for amoxicillin overdose symptoms like severe diarrhea and vomiting.
Contact your healthcare provider or call the poison control center for guidance.
You should also seek emergency medical care if you notice a severe allergic reaction to amoxicillin.
Signs of a severe allergic reaction to amoxicillin include hives, difficulty breathing, mouth or facial swelling, or difficulty swallowing.
Remember to talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you’re about to start another medication that may interact with amoxicillin.
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Frequently Asked Questions
K Health has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.
Be antibiotics aware: smart use, best care. (2021).
Fact versus Fiction: a Review of the Evidence behind Alcohol and Antibiotic Interactions. (2020).
Alcohol Use As a Risk Factor in Infections and Healing. (2015).
Using medication: Using antibiotics correctly and avoiding resistance. (2013).
Amoxicillin kinetics and ethanol ingestion. (1988).