It is said that alcohol consumption may counteract the effects of azithromycin. Is this just a theoretical assumption, or does it have any scientific evidence? This HealthHearty article will answer this question with an explanation.
Did You Know?
The only antibiotics that are proven to interact adversely with alcohol are metronidazole (Flagyl), tinidazole (Fasigyn), and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim).
Azithromycin is a commonly prescribed antibiotic to get rid of a wide range of bacterial infections, including pneumonia, sexually transmitted infections, bronchitis, and sinus infections. When taking antibiotics, it is often advised to follow a well-balanced diet that does not interfere with the efficacy of the medicine.
The question whether alcohol should be allowed when taking azithromycin has been a subject of debate for quite some time. The following discusses the theoretical risks, expert opinions, and what studies indicate about the interaction between alcohol and azithromycin.
Alcohol and Azithromycin
Will the combination of alcohol and azithromycin cause any potential interactions? Presently, no interactions have been identified. To put it simply, whether or not interactions occur is not yet known. It is lacking in extensive research, so as such, it is not possible to give any definite answer. However, most health experts are of the opinion that drinking alcohol when put on azithromycin is not a cause for concern. However, to be on the safer side, make sure you drink in moderate amounts during your antibiotic course. Although some doctors warn against alcohol intake when on antibiotics, as such, there is no definite warning about consuming alcohol when taking azithromycin.
There has always been a concern of alcohol reducing the effectiveness of azithromycin. However, animal studies conducted so far do not support these claims. A study that involved a group of rats was conducted at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The rats were put on a liquid diet consisting of 36% ethanol. The rats were divided into 2 groups, wherein one group was following a liquid diet devoid of ethanol. They were then exposed to pneumonia-causing bacteria, and then were put on a specific dose of azithromycin for a period of 5 days to deal with the infection. It was observed that the rats belonging to both the groups were able to produce sufficient number of white blood cells to combat the infection. Moreover, there was no change in the absorption and distribution of azithromycin in those rats that were put on the ethanol-based liquid diet. This means ethanol did not interfere with the mechanism of action of azithromycin. Moreover, there was no difference in the survival rates of the rats belonging to both groups.
Those saying that interactions between azithromycin and alcohol can be nasty are merely speculating on theoretical assumptions. In other words, the interaction becoming serious carries theoretical risk and has no scientific backing.
One cannot forget that taking azithromycin can produce some bothersome side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and diarrhea. Heavy alcohol consumption can dehydrate the body severely, which may worsen some of these side effects. In other words, getting drunk doesn’t sound sensible when you are not well and taking azithromycin to combat an infection.
Also, one should avoid mixing the drug with alcohol as both are metabolized in the liver. Metabolizing alcohol and the drug at the same time, can increase the burden on the liver. Hence, one should not mix the drug with an alcoholic drink.
So whether you have wine, beer, or any other alcoholic beverage, make sure you have it in moderation, especially when put on azithromycin.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.