Many patients can safely combine cephalexin and alcohol, but drinking can increase the risk of adverse drug reactions. This antibiotic medication can be recommended to treat a variety of bacterial infections. If someone’s medical history contains items of special concern, a medical provider may recommend refraining from drinking or cutting back while taking the drug. Likewise, if a bad reaction does occur, it may be necessary to stop drinking for the duration of treatment; these patients may want to make note of this for future reference.
One potential issue with cephalexin and alcohol is that the medication could intensify side effects for the patient. Most commonly, drinking while on this antibiotic can make patients feel more dizzy and disoriented. It can be helpful to take the medication alone at first to see how a patient feels; people who experience low levels of dizziness may be able to take cephalexin with alcohol safely. Patients who experience disorientation may want to avoid alcohol because drinking could make them feel worse.
Another issue is existing liver impairment. Patients with liver problems can be at increased risk of complications, and cephalexin occasionally interacts with the liver. People with liver problems, or those who develop them while taking cephalexin, may need to avoid alcohol. The risk of problems with metabolizing the medication can increase, making side effects worse, and the patient might experience more severe liver damage because of the drinking.
No specific warnings recommend against cephalexin and alcohol, but a doctor may generally advise that a patient avoid drinking while taking medication. Alcohol use can complicate drug interactions and reactions, which may make it harder to determine the source of a bad reaction. High volume alcohol consumption may also depress the immune system and cause other problems for the patient which might slow healing and recovery time. This is a particular concern with alcoholics, who may also have impaired nutrition, which can make it harder to recover from infections.
The risks of combining cephalexin and alcohol are not so severe that patients should skip or reschedule doses if they have been drinking. It’s important to take the antibiotic as prescribed to keep concentrations consistent in the blood throughout the course of an infection. Patients who drink heavily may want to consult their physicians about how to cut back or stop, as abrupt cessation can pose health risks in some cases. Options can include supported outpatient treatment as well as time in an inpatient facility for monitoring and care while addressing alcohol dependence.