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What Are the Effects of Taking Azithromycin with Alcohol?

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  • Written By: Marlene Garcia
  • Edited By: Daniel Lindley
  • Last Modified Date: 24 March 2014
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Using azithromycin with alcohol does not reduce the effectiveness of the medication but may increase side effects such as blurred vision, dizziness, and lightheadedness. Some doctors recommend against combining azithromycin with alcohol because the drug and ethanol are both metabolized in the liver. The manufacturers of the antibiotic advise against using machinery or driving until the patient knows how the drug affects him or her.

Azithromycin treats bacterial infections by killing or slowing the growth of proteins the bacteria need to thrive. It is commonly prescribed for strep throat, tonsillitis, and middle ear infections in children. Adults may find the drug effective for sinus infections, staph infections, pneumonia, and certain sexually transmitted diseases.

This medication stays in the system longer than some antibiotics. Azithromycin and alcohol used together might cause excessive urination or diarrhea that depletes the medication from the body faster. If large amounts of alcohol are consumed while taking the drug, the effects could be greater.

Although the drug's manufacturer does not address the effectiveness of azithromycin with alcohol, it does warn against using antacids with an aluminum or magnesium base. Medicine used for heartburn or gastritis interferes with the absorption of azithromycin in the intestines when the two are used together. Those who use the antibiotic for long periods of time might also develop a secondary infection because healthy bacteria might be destroyed.

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People taking the drug might also sunburn more quickly. Tanning booths and heat lamps should be avoided while taking azithromycin with alcohol or even without drinking. It is advised to use sunscreen while outside when using this medication.

A long list of drugs may cause interactions with this type of antibiotic. Some decrease the effectiveness of azithromycin, while others increase the potential for side effects. Medications used for erratic heartbeat, for example, may actually increase the heart rate when combined with this drug. Herbal or vitamin supplements may also cause negative reactions.

Mild diarrhea is the most common side effect. In rare cases, the diarrhea develops into a serious condition that causes pain, cramps, or bloody stools. Using an anti-diarrheal medicine might make the illness worse, according to the drug manufacturer. Sometimes, the diarrhea does not surface until several months after the patient stops taking azithromycin.

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serenesurface
Post 3

I drank once while I was on azithromycin. The alcohol hit me very badly and I was so dizzy and nauseated. I had to have a friend escort me home because I was scared of fainting. Alcohol definitely amplifies the side effects of azithromycin. I had mild nausea a few times before on the medication, but it was so much worse when I drank. I had intentionally taken the medication early in the day to avoid problems but it didn't make a difference.

stoneMason
Post 2

@alisha-- Can you drink alcohol on azithromycin? Yes, a little bit. But should you? Not really.

I personally don't think it's a good idea to drink while on any medication. I didn't drink while I was on azithromycin even though my doctor would have probably allowed it.

Alcohol isn't good for the body because it causes so many changes. It's a diuretic and causes dehydration. It depresses the central nervous system and makes it difficult to think and perform activities. Alcohol is also said to weaken the immune system. I believe it because the liver treats alcohol as a toxin and leaves everything else it's metabolizing to metabolize alcohol and get it out of the body first.

When I'm already sick and my body is fighting an infection, the last thing I need is a weak immune system and an over-stressed liver. So I don't drink any alcohol while I'm sick and on medications. It's just common sense.

discographer
Post 1

I was on azithromycin tablets for strep throat last week. I did drink while I was on it. My doctor said that it's okay to drink. I had a beer or two almost daily. I didn't have any bad side effects.

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