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Infection advice / Antibiotics and alcohol

If you are feeling unwell it is sensible to avoid drinking alcohol. However, alcohol in moderation will not cause a problem with most antibiotics. There are only two antibiotics that should not be taken with alcohol. These are:

  • Metronidazole: prescribed for dental and vaginal infections, infected leg ulcers, pressure sores and to treat Helicobacter pylori gut infections.
  • Tinidazole: rarely prescribed for the conditions listed above.

Combining alcohol with these antibiotics may cause a severe reaction which can include breathlessness, headaches, chest pain, nausea, vomiting and increased or irregular heartbeat. Alcohol should be avoided for 48 hours after you finish a course of metronidazole and 72 hours after you finish a course of tinidazole.

Some other antibiotics may also cause side effects if combined with alcohol, although these reactions are rare. These antibiotics include:

  • Co-trimoxazole: prescribed for a range of bacterial infections.
  • Linezolid: prescribed for serious infections such as pneumonia or skin infections.

It is always best to check with your GP or pharmacist if you are unsure about combining antibiotics and alcohol.