Could alcohol be used as an antibiotic?

I was thinking about how alcohol is used to sterilize, and I was wondering if it would be possible to use alcohol as an antibiotic? if it kills bacteria, couldn't (conceivably) alcohol in the bloodstream kill any bacteria there, and the alcohol would be cleaned out by the liver later? Or would the concentration of alcohol necessary be too high and cause poisoning?

Sorry if this has an extremely obvious answer, but all of the results I found in Google were about drinking alcohol while on antibiotics.

Could, in theory, alcohol (delivered in any way) be used as an antibiotic? If so, how? If not, why?

No. The CDC recommends using a hand sanitizer at at least 60% ethanol. Most preparations used in the lab are 70% ethanol. Humans start to risk death somewhere around the 0.3% alcohol level (BAC), especially around 0.5%. People have gone higher, but even 1% BAC would be completely useless against bacteria. You'd be dead long before the bacteria died. Besides, if you've got bacteria in your blood, you've got bigger problems than a simple infection.

In a pinch, though, it can be used as a topical antiseptic, as per this fun article.

You&rsquove most likely taken an antibiotic or anti-infective at least once in your lifetime. From treatments for painful strep throat or ear infections as a child, to burning urinary tract infections or itchy skin infections as an adult, antibiotics are one of the most highly utilized and important medication classes we have in medicine.

Understanding the vast world of antibiotics and anti-infectives is no easy task. Anti-infectives are a large class of drugs that cover a broad range of infections, including fungal, viral, bacterial, and even protozoal infections.

    ? That&rsquos a common fungal infection. ? Antiviral medications are always needed. ? Yes, that may need a common oral antibiotic. ? A topical anti-parasitic can alleviate the itching.

There is no one type of antibiotic that cures every infection. Antibiotics specifically treat infections caused by bacteria, such as Staph., Strep., or E. coli., and either kill the bacteria (bactericidal) or keep it from reproducing and growing (bacteriostatic). Antibiotics do not work against any viral infection.

Is It Safe to Combine Cefuroxime and Alcohol? (with pictures)

There are no specific warnings against the use of cefuroxime and alcohol, but in some patients the combination may be ill-advised. Patients with a history of high alcohol consumption may want to discuss this when a care provider recommends cefuroxime therapy. The combination can also be a concern in cases where a patient has underlying liver or kidney problems, which may necessitate a dosage adjustment and some lifestyle changes to reduce risks.

This drug is an antibiotic in the cephalosporin family, used to treat bacterial infections. People with existing liver and kidney disease can be at risk of complications, especially if they combine cefuroxime with alcohol. The alcohol can overload their livers in combination with the medication and may interfere with metabolism, which could lead to abnormal levels of the drug in the bloodstream. It might become less effective, or could rise in concentration and increase the risk of side effects.

Some patients experience extreme nausea, vomiting, and intestinal cramping when they combine cefuroxime and alcohol. This tends to be more common when people have a history of alcoholism or heavy drinking. They may need to temporarily stop drinking or cut down on consumption while taking the antibiotic to decrease the chance of experiencing these unpleasant side effects. People with concerns about alcohol consumption may want to bring them up to discuss treatment options.

In people who are healthy, with no history of heavy alcohol consumption, there are usually no specific risks with cefuroxime and alcohol. Patients who notice symptoms like nausea, dizziness, or disorientation after combining the two can discuss this with a medical professional. They may be advised to avoid alcohol for the duration of therapy to limit the chance of future interactions. It’s also possible that these side effects could be caused by the medication alone, in which case they may continue after the patient stops drinking, indicating that it may be necessary to change to a different antibiotic.

Medical professionals may recommend against combining cefuroxime and alcohol from the very start with the goal of preventing complications. This may be based on experience with prior patients or issues in a patient’s history that might increase the chance of a bad reaction. People who are not sure about whether the combination is safe can ask for advice, and may receive specific information on how many drinks are safe and whether they should avoid hard alcohol while taking the antibiotic.

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a InfoBloom researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a InfoBloom researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Can Natural Plant Products Work as Effective Antibiotics?

The aim of this experiment was to find a solution that may help control the resistance of bacteria to conventional antibiotics. This experiment tests to see the efficacy of everyday natural products towards health and wellbeing as opposed to seeking conventional antibiotics, which can trigger problems such as antibiotic resistance. This experiment is a test of the effectiveness of natural antibiotics compared to three different bacteria types Bacillus subtilis, Bacillus megaterium and Escherichia coli. Filter paper discs are soaked in garlic, Manuka honey, tea tree oil, clove and ginger and placed on the bacteria. The zone of inhibition is measured around each of the filter paper discs to determine the effectiveness of each of the antibiotics. A larger the inhibition zone correlates with better effectiveness as the antibiotic was better at stopping the growth of the bacterium. This resulted in tea tree oil being the most effective in creating an inhibition zone against the bacteria because zones such as 5.23 and 10 mm were created. Manuka honey and ginger did not show a zone of inhibition in the bacteria colony. The results showed that natural plants worked well against the bacteria types and when taken regularly will help to boost immunity against future infections. This should help to prevent the dangerous rise of antibiotic resistant superbugs. If you are interested in other ways to increase your health use a light therapy lamp for it.


Bacteria are all around us. They survive both on and inside us, containing a mixture of good bacteria called normal flora, and harmful bacteria called pathogens. [1] When under attack from bacterial pathogens to help our systems we can use antibiotics, which work in a way to either kill (bactericidal), stagnate (bacteriostatic) or cause mutations and adaptations. Because bacteria can reproduce within hours and can adapt to the environment, they develop resistance to commonly used antibiotics and are therefore classed as superbugs. This means that the next major global pandemic may involve an antibiotic resistant superbug! The aim of this experiment was to find a solution that may help to control the resistance of bacteria to conventional antibiotics. The project title is an experimental question asking whether using natural medicines will help cut or slow down antimicrobial resistance. [2] Bacteria are mainly classified into two categories: gram positive or gram negative. Hans Christian Gram, a Danish scientist devised a method to differentiate bacteria based on the structural differences in their cell walls. In his test, bacteria that retained the crystal violet dye did so because of a thick layer of peptidoglycan and are called gram-positive bacteria. In contrast, gram-negative bacteria do not retain the violet dye and are coloured red or pink. Compared with Gram-positive bacteria, Gram-negative bacteria are more resistant to antibiotics because of their impenetrable cell wall and gram-positive therefore are more susceptible.

Literature review

Goel et al [3] in their studies conducted, explored whether turmeric, a popular spice used very commonly in India would contain bio protective properties from food-bourne bacterial pathogens. The experiment found that turmeric extracts are effective antimicrobial agents against some multiple drug-resistant bacteria may have important implications for preventing or treating infections caused by these microorganisms.

All science fair projects [4] This experiment was testing how effective natural plant extracts are as antibiotics by placing a mixture of the bacteria and natural plant extract combined together with milk and measured the diameter of the bacterial colony in the agar plate and compared it a mixture of only milk and the bacteria without the plant extract to see if the plant extract was effective in killing the bacteria. The results of this test found that the effective of the natural antibiotic was more effective the more days went by. The hypothesis that the presence of garlic will kill bacteria and prevent its growth is proven to be true. The test was successful in proving that the antimicrobial properties of herbs and spices are useful for medicinal purpose and also for the preservation of food. However, it is also true that different spices are effective in providing resistance and protection against different types of microbes.

National Center Of Biotechnology Information [5] This is another study to test the antimicrobial activity of garlic, tea tree oil, and chlorhexidine against oral microorganisms. According to GoldBee, the experiment consisted of thirty subjects over a five-week study with a baseline of different plant extracts against oral microorganisms. To conclude the study found that garlic and tea tree oil may be a better alternative to a commonly used chlorhexidine solution.

By 1940, antibiotics had become so popular that people began to forget about natural plants for resolving small infections. But now due to the resistance of bacteria it is vital to find other sources of medicines. My first experiment was testing whether natural plant extracts could be used as useful antibiotics and work effectively against common microorganisms as compared to conventional antibiotics. Prior to the experiment I predicted that garlic would be the most effective at working as an antibiotic because after much research it was deemed to be the best. Three bacteria types were used for testing which were 3 agar plates each of Bacillus subtilis, Bacillus megaterium and Escherichia coli. The natural extracts that were tested were ginger, garlic and clove extracts, manuka honey and tea tree oil. As well as other equipment such as forceps, alcohol, filter paper discs, collate, Bunsen burner, heatproof mats, pipettes and lab coats and goggles.

Any experiment with bacteria requires strict aseptic techniques, therefore hands must be washed thoroughly before and after. Set up the equipment required prior to the experiment and then begin with an agar plate of one bacteria type. Sterilize the forceps by dipping them in alcohol then into the flame of the Bunsen burner, to ensure minimal contamination. With the forceps place three discs of filter paper evenly spread out in the agar plate to allow individual space for inhibition zones to form without overlap. Using a pipette apply three different extracts to the three different filter paper discs. When bacteria are exposed to surroundings make sure it is done near a flame or warm environment where air currents are drawn upwards to ensure that contaminating bacterial spores are destroyed. Take another plate of the same bacteria type and place two discs of filter paper some distance from each other and apply the remaining two extracts. Cello tape the finished plate together and label the type of plant extract with a marker pen. Repeat the steps for the other two bacteria types. Leave the plates for a few days in a warm environment for growth. Measure the zone of inhibition to determine the efficacy of the plant extracts’ antibiotic qualities. Disposal of bacteria must be done properly so that any potentially mutated and dangerous strains of bacteria are not spread.

A table to show the efficacy of 5 natural plant products against different bacteria types by measuring the zone of inhibition (mm)

A graph to show the efficacy of 5 natural plant products against different bacteria types by measuring the zone of inhibition (mm)

On the conducted tests, results were taken a week later after the agar plates were left in a warm environment for the natural antibiotics to work. These results are shown in Table 1 and in graphs 1 and 2. The results show that tea tree oil was the most effective in creating an inhibition zone against the bacteria as zones such as 5, 23 and 10mm were created. Manuka honey and ginger did not show a zone of inhibition in the bacteria colony this may be because a strong enough dosage wasn’t applied or because they work to inhibit different bacteria types.

In the study, control variables were taken for each bacteria type for a fair and unbiased experiment in order to calculate a reliable mean and discount anomalies. Despite the many precautions taken to make this test fair there will be some inaccuracy due to human error and it must be taken into consideration that Bacillus Subtilis and Bacillus megaterium are gram-positive bacteria and Escherichia coli was gram negative, which means it would have been more resistant to antibiotics because of the impenetrable cell wall.

As proven in the conducted experiment, there are a host of common foods that possess the quality of medicinal care to provide relief and also very importantly helps to prevent future diseases by boosting the immune system. [6]In a healthy body, the natural immune system is able to fight bacteria with the help of white blood cells. However sometimes, the body might need outside help when the infection is too severe. This is when antibiotics should be taken.

The aim of this is to explore an alternative route to help cut down the use of antibiotics and nature as proven to be quite advantageous. Synthetic antibiotics have many adverse side effects such as gastric problems, vomiting, headaches, diarrhoea and more, which is a big disadvantage whereas natural medicines do not.

[7] Eating these natural foods not only provide relief when infection strikes but very importantly builds up immunity for the future. These are ‘natural antibiotics’ and are not made in a lab meaning they are readily available around us.

[8]Also, as modern science develops there is a risk of misusing antibiotics. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), “Antibiotic resistance is a problem global health, food security and development today.” This is another good reason to use natural plants when possible to prevent misuse and overuse.

To conclude, natural plants are some of the oldest known medicines and that is why to this day we still rely on them for help. Whether it is honey and lime lozenges to soothe our throats to the calming effect of ginger tea, nature reaps with benefits which we should all make the most of.

Investigation limitations and ideas for future research

The investigation found some limitations such as the various types and amounts of bacteria and natural medicines that could be tested which may have lead to slightly different results. Future ideas would be to test more subjects in sterile environments for more diverse and conclusive results. In the future the same experiment can be done better with more advanced equipment and technology such as agar dilution assays (E-test and disk diffusion), broth dilution assays, and automated systems from various manufacturers. These measure bacterial growth in presence of antibiotics over a few days very accurately by using concentration to determine if bacterial growth has occurred in the inoculated spots. The lowest concentration of antibiotics that prevented bacterial growth is considered to be the minimum inhibitory concentration of that antibiotic against that bacterium.

  1. Khan Academy (Sep 2017). ‘What is antibiotic resistance’ fact sheet
  2. Diffen LLC, n.d. Web (4 Jan 2018) Gram-positive vs Gram-negative Bacteria

3. Goel, Shruti et al. (Feb 11 th 2007), George Washington University. Study to prove antimicrobial properites of turmeric extracts.

4. All Science Fair Projects (2016) Effectiveness in garlic fighting bacteria

5. Piracicaba Dental School (Dec, 2002), National Center Of Biotechnology Information. Study to test the antimicrobial activity of garlic, tea tree oil, and chlorhexidine against oral microorganisms

6. Mead, Paul S. et al. (1999) Emerging Infectious Diseases due to antibiotic resistance.

7. Tanu Ganguly (Sep 2017). NDTV advantages of natural antibiotics.

8. World Health Organization (WHO) (Nov 2017). Antibiotic resistance factsheet

About the Author

Shreya Kamath, UK

Shreya is a Year 10 student with an inquisitive mind and passion for science. She has been actively involved in STEM events, coding and robotics within and outside her school. Projects involved include hands on engineering, computer programming and experimental science. The article presented here has been submitted following her Silver Science CREST Award.

9 thoughts on &ldquo Can Natural Plant Products Work as Effective Antibiotics? &rdquo

What an interesting article and on such an important topic. Every contribution into possible solutions to the increased resistance of bacteria to antibiotics will hopefully help to secure future public health. Well done Shreya.

Shreya, I have a similar research topic about antimicrobial from natural component,.
I futher, I want offering joint research proposal with you, somehow we can colaborate.

Shreya, I have a similar research topic about antimicrobial from a natural component,.
I further, I want offering joint research proposal with you, somehow we can collaborate. Feel free contact me: [email protected]

That sounds good, let me know. Thanks.

What an interesting article as well as on such an important topic. Every payment right into feasible solutions to the increased resistance of microorganisms to prescription antibiotics will hopefully aid to protect future public health.

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I futher, I want offering joint study proposal with you, in some way we can colaborate.

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Moderate Alcohol Consumption and OTC or Herbal Medications

Use of OTC medications is widespread among the general population. According to a recent survey, 85 percent of adults ages 18 and older have used OTC pain relievers at least once, and up to 34 percent use OTC pain relievers on a weekly basis, often without consulting a pharmacist. Furthermore, a recent scientific panel convened by the American Pharmaceutical Association (1997) reported that although adults frequently use OTC medications, many consumers fail to read the product warning labels. Finally, consumers frequently are unaware of the type of medication they take (e.g., NSAID or analgesic). For example, only one in three adults are familiar with the product names acetaminophen, aspirin, or ibuprofen and are able to link these product names to specific brand names. As a result, many consumers are not fully aware of the potential risks of taking these products, particularly in combination with other prescription medications or alcohol.

Another factor contributing to an increasing risk of medication-medication or alcohol-medication interactions is that many medications that previously were available only by prescription (e.g., H2RAs and NSAIDs) are gaining OTC status. OTC marketing strategies, however, often lead the consumer to think that these medications are safe to use on an 𠇊s-needed” basis, even though they can be potentially dangerous when used with alcohol. For example, the message that �id blocker” medications can be used before or during a spicy meal to prevent heartburn symptoms may lead consumers to believe that this practice is also acceptable when they drink alcohol with their meal.

Not only the combination of alcohol and OTC products but also the amount of alcohol contained in various OTC products can be dangerous (see table 1 ). Alcohol concentrations in these products can be substantial mouthwashes and cough syrups tend to have the highest alcohol contents. In an effort to control the alcohol amounts in these products and promote safety, the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) OTC-drugs advisory committee has adopted the following limits on the amount of alcohol considered appropriate:

For children under age 6, products should be 𠇊lcohol free” (i.e., have an alcohol content of 0.5 percent or less).

For children ages 6 to 12, the alcohol content should range between 0.5 and 5 percent.

For people over age 12, the alcohol content should not exceed 5 to 10 percent.

These levels represent only guidelines, however, and are not enforced by the FDA. The manufacturers of OTC products have agreed to maintain certain standards to keep their products as close to these suggestions as possible. Nevertheless, higher alcohol concentrations are considered acceptable in certain products, such as herbal medications, because alcohol often is needed to extract and dissolve organic substances from plants.

Herbal medications currently are widely used, and many people assume that because these products are “natural,” they also are safe to use. This assumption may not always be correct, however. For example, chamomile, echinacea, and valerian commonly are used as sleep aids, and like prescription and OTC products that cause sedation, these herbal products may produce enhanced sedative effects in the CNS when combined with alcohol. In addition, liver toxicities caused by various natural products have now been identified (Heathcote and Wanless 1995), and their combination with alcohol may enhance potential adverse effects. To date, limited documentation of such interactions exists because of a lack of scientific studies on this subject (Miller 1998).

Drug Interactions

It may interact in a negative way with the following medications:

  • Sodium picosulfate (a contact stimulant laxative used as a treatment for constipation)
  • Botulinum toxin A (a neurotoxic protein produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum)
  • vecuronium (a medication used as part of general anesthesia)
  • rocuronium (an aminosteroid non- depolarizing neuromuscular blocker)
  • pancuronium (Pavulon)
  • cisatracurium (Nimbex)
  • atracurium (a medication used to provide skeletal muscle relaxation)
  • Mycophenolate mofetil (Cellcept)
  • norgestrel (a progestin medication that is used in birth control pills)
  • norgestimate (a form of progesterone, that is used to prevent pregnancy)
  • norelgestromin
  • mestranol
  • levonorgestrel
  • ethynodiol (sold under the brand names Femulen and Demulen)
  • estradiol
  • drospirenone
  • dienogest
  • desogestrel.

What are antibiotics and how do they work?

Any substance that inhibits the growth and replication of a bacterium or kills it outright can be called an antibiotic. Antibiotics are a type of antimicrobial designed to target bacterial infections within (or on) the body. This makes antibiotics subtly different from the other main kinds of antimicrobials widely used today:

  • Antiseptics are used to sterilise surfaces of living tissue when the risk of infection is high, such as during surgery.
  • Disinfectants are non-selective antimicrobials, killing a wide range of micro-organisms including bacteria. They are used on non-living surfaces, for example in hospitals.

Of course, bacteria are not the only microbes that can be harmful to us. Fungi and viruses can also be a danger to humans, and they are targeted by antifungals and antivirals, respectively. Only substances that target bacteria are called antibiotics, while the name antimicrobial is an umbrella term for anything that inhibits or kills microbial cells including antibiotics, antifungals, antivirals and chemicals such as antiseptics.

Most antibiotics used today are produced in laboratories, but they are often based on compounds scientists have found in nature. Some microbes, for example, produce substances specifically to kill other nearby bacteria in order to gain an advantage when competing for food, water or other limited resources. However, some microbes only produce antibiotics in the laboratory

How do antibiotics work?

Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections. Some are highly specialised and are only effective against certain bacteria. Others, known as broad-spectrum antibiotics, attack a wide range of bacteria, including ones that are beneficial to us.

There are two main ways in which antibiotics target bacteria. They either prevent the reproduction of bacteria, or they kill the bacteria, for example by stopping the mechanism responsible for building their cell walls.

Why are antibiotics important?

The introduction of antibiotics into medicine revolutionised the way infectious diseases were treated. Between 1945 and 1972, average human life expectancy jumped by eight years, with antibiotics used to treat infections that were previously likely to kill patients. Today, antibiotics are one of the most common classes of drugs used in medicine and make possible many of the complex surgeries that have become routine around the world.

If we ran out of effective antibiotics, modern medicine would be set back by decades. Relatively minor surgeries, such as appendectomies, could become life threatening, as they were before antibiotics became widely available. Antibiotics are sometimes used in a limited numbers of patients before surgery to ensure that patients do not contract any infections from bacteria entering open cuts. Without this precaution, the risk of blood poisoning would become much higher, and many of the more complex surgeries doctors now perform may not be possible.

Can you mix cephalexin and alcohol?

Cephalexin, also spelled cefalexin, is an antibiotic. It belongs to a class of antibiotics known as first-generation cephalosporins, which doctors use to treat a range of bacterial infections.

A doctor may prescribe cephalexin to treat infections of the skin, middle ear, upper respiratory tract, and urinary tract. It appears on the World Health Organization’s “List of Essential Medicines.”

While cephalexin does not directly interact with alcohol, this article outlines some reasons why people may wish to avoid alcohol while undergoing antibiotic treatment.

Share on Pinterest Consuming cephalexin with alcohol can cause side effects in some people.

Although it is not the case with some other antibiotics, cephalexin and alcohol are safe to consume together. However, some people report unpleasant side effects.

The side effects of cephalexin can be similar to those of alcohol, so combining the two may exacerbate these effects.

Many people believe that consuming alcohol while taking antibiotics can be dangerous. This is true for some types of antibiotics, such as metronidazole and tinidazole, which can cause severe adverse reactions in combination with alcohol.

Additionally, some people may avoid alcohol while taking antibiotics because they fear that alcohol can render the medication ineffective.

It is possible that alcohol may reduce the effectiveness of some antibiotics, such as doxycycline. People with a history of chronic alcohol consumption or liver problems should not use this type of medicine.

As with other cephalosporins, the most common side effects of cephalexin are gastrointestinal problems, including:

Some less common side effects of cephalexin include:

Allergic reactions

Researchers estimate that 1–3 percent of people will develop a reaction to cephalosporins.

The risk may be higher for people who are allergic to penicillin.

The authors of one study advise that people with a known allergy to penicillin do not take any cephalosporins before undergoing tests. These will involve taking a progressively increasing amount of one of these drugs to measure any possible reaction.

Common symptoms of an allergic reaction include:

In rare cases, a person may experience an extreme allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a potentially life-threatening condition that requires urgent medical attention.

Symptoms of anaphylaxis can include:

  • difficulty breathing
  • tightness in the chest
  • swelling of the face, mouth, lips, or tongue
  • severe abdominal pain or cramps
  • red, swollen, or blistered skin
  • seizures
  • dizziness
  • fainting

Cephalexin is a common antibiotic that doctors prescribe for a range of bacterial infections. However, alternative antibiotics are available for people who are hypersensitive to cephalexin and other first-generation cephalosporins.

Individuals with a known allergy to penicillin are less likely to experience an allergic reaction to newer third- or fourth-generation cephalosporins, such as:

Although cephalexin and alcohol are safe to use in combination, people taking the antibiotic for an active urinary tract infection (UTI) may still benefit from avoiding alcohol altogether.

Doctors usually advise people with UTIs to drink more water in an attempt to “flush out” the infection. Drinking alcohol tends to dehydrate the body, which may prolong bladder irritation.

Effects of alcohol on the immune system

Drinking alcohol while experiencing a UTI increases the strain on the liver, which will already be working hard to overcome the infection.

Alcohol may also disrupt the immune system by disturbing sleep patterns and causing gastrointestinal symptoms.

Each of these effects can impair the ability of the body to recover from infection, possibly prolonging recovery.

While it is safe to consume alcohol in moderation while taking cephalexin, the two substances can cause similar side effects. Taking them in combination may make these side effects worse.

For people who have an active UTI, alcohol may increase irritation and potentially extend recovery time.

In general, moderate alcohol intake will not impact on cephalexin’s effectiveness. However, it is usually best for people who are feeling unwell to abstain from alcohol or limit their intake to allow their body to rest.

Is It Safe to Drink Alcohol While Taking Clindamycin?

Can you drink alcohol while taking clindamycin? Physicians recommend that one shouldn’t combine clindamycin and alcohol at the same time.

Drinking wine with clindamycin is fine as long as the amount of wine is limited to no more than two glasses. Moderation is important with alcohol and antibiotic interaction.

Alcohol suppresses absorption and slows your body’s normal functioning. If your liver function is compromised as a result of excessive alcohol, poisonous enzymes get released. Your immune system will get weaker, and it will worsen the side effects.

The interaction between clindamycin and alcohol creates the following side effects:

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Upset Stomach
  • Vaginal itching or discharge

Stop taking clindamycin if you experience any of these side effects. If you experience any health condition that doesn’t resolve on its own, stop taking any antibiotic, and call your doctor immediately.

Antibiotics & Alcohol: The Truth And Myths

The fact is that antibiotics have different routes of leaving the body. These medications are broken down by the liver, excreted in the urine or pass straight through the gastrointestinal system, after which they end up in the feces. The excretion route determines how long the drugs stay active in the body and how often they need to be taken. What alcohol may do in combination with antibiotics is increase the drugs’ excretion rate or slow down the rate drugs are being broken down. [1]

Alcohol-Medication Interactions

Many medications and not only antibiotics, when combined with alcohol, can cause [2]:

Some statistics show that alcohol-medication interactions made up at least 25 percent of all emergency room visits.

Incidence of the alcohol-drugs interactions

Over 2,800 prescription drugs are available in the United States today and health experts prescribe 14 billion of them annually. Additionally, there are around 2,000 over-the-counter medications, for which patients do not even need to see a doctor. With 70 percent of the adult population consuming alcohol occasionally and 10 percent drinking daily, some concurrent use of alcohol and prescription or over the counter medications is inevitable. [3]

Although people aged 65 and older make up only 12 percent of the population, they consume 25 to 30 percent of all prescription medications and may be more likely to use them along with alcohol. This puts this age group at particular risk for suffering from the adverse consequences of such combinations. Older people are also more likely to experience medication side effects in comparison to younger people, and these effects tend to get more severe with advancing age.

What Are Antibiotics?

What kind of drugs are antibiotics? These drugs kill or slow the growth of bacteria. They belong to the class of antimicrobials, a larger group which also includes antiviral, antifungal, and anti-parasitic drugs.