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Widely considered one of the safest antibiotics, Amoxicillin can be prescribed to children and pregnant women as well as healthy adults. But there are certain potential side effects to watch out for: such as mixing amoxicillin and alcohol.

Amoxicillin is one of the most commonly prescribed antibiotics in the world. It is used to treat bacterial infections such as urinary tract infections (UTIs), throat infections, ear infections, and chest infections such as pneumonia.

This type of antibiotic is also often used alongside  clarithromycin (Biaxin) – another type of antibiotic used to treat stomach ulcers. However, amoxicillin has no ability to treat viral infections like the flu or the common cold.

A course of amoxicillin should always be followed directly, even if your symptoms improve before the course runs out. Studies have shown that his antibiotic does make the contraceptive pill less effective, so be sure to consult your doctor if this affects you.

What You Need to Know About Amoxicillin

Amoxicillin is only available via prescription and is most commonly prescribed in 250mg to 500mg doses which are taken 3 times per day, but the exact level of dosage is decided by your doctor.

While it is an incredibly effective and safe way to combat infection, this medication also has a number of potential side effects which include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Stomach pain
  • Vaginal itching or discharge (even thrush in some cases)
  • Headaches
  • Rashes
  • Swollen, black, or ‘hairy’ tongue

More serious and lasting side effects are rare but can include:

  • Seizures
  • Colitis
  • Jaundice
  • Wheezing/coughing
  • Liver damage

If you experience any of these symptoms please contact your doctor for advice. Ensure that you follow the instructions for dosing and complete the full course of antibiotics unless otherwise advised by your doctor or healthcare professional.

Alcohol and Amoxicillin

It’s a well-known fact that alcohol and medications do not always mix well. Amoxicillin is one drug that interacts poorly with alcohol; though it is less dangerous than some other medications you should still avoid drinking when using Amoxicillin to fight infection.

Why You Shouldn’t Mix Them

Amoxicillin (also called Amoxil) is similar to Penicillin and reacts to alcohol in many of the same ways. The most common misconception about alcohol is that it interferes with the effectiveness of antibiotics, but this is not always the case.

According to healthcare professionals, moderate alcohol consumption is unlikely to disrupt most medications, but it can cause or increase the severity of side effects which range from unpleasant to dangerous.

  1. Dangerous Interactions: Some antibiotics react violently and dangerously with alcohol, causing vomiting, diarrhoea, seizures, dizziness, fainting, and even heart palpitations. While amoxicillin does not generally see such drastic reactions, mixing it with alcohol can cause an elevated heart rate, nausea, vomiting, and on occasion stomach pains
  2. Damage to the Immune System: To put it simply, antibiotics are medications prescribed to help your immune system to fight infection. Drinking alcohol dampens your immune system by reducing the number of white blood cells. This means that those who drink regularly are more prone to illness and infection and that drinking while taking antibiotics can actually make it harder to shake an infection off. Not because it negates the effects of your antibiotics, but because it weakens your immune system
  3. Organ Damage: Organ Damage Antibiotics are notoriously hard on the liver, and while amoxicillin is less damaging than, for example, rifampin, it is still advised that you do not drink while taking it in order to avoid unnecessary strain on your liver. This is why those struggling with alcohol dependency or addiction are encouraged to speak honestly with their doctor about how much they drink; it is crucial to enabling them to make the best choice for your health and wellbeing
  4. Effect Magnification: One thing which makes consuming alcohol and amoxicillin at the same time particularly dangerous is the way in which the combination of the two can increase the severity of side effects. In this case, the dehydration caused by alcohol and its interaction with amoxicillin can cause extreme nausea, fatigue, headaches, and in some cases faster alcohol absorption leading to higher levels of alcohol in the blood and intense intoxication

Does Alcohol ‘Cancel Out’ Amoxicillin?

In short, no. Alcohol does not ‘cancel out’ amoxicillin, but it does interfere with your bodies ability to process and make use of it. As a result, drinking alcohol can reduce the effectiveness of antibiotics, slow the healing and recovery process, and even cause damaging side effects. It is incredibly important to be safe and responsible when taking amoxicillin.

Taking Amoxicillin Safely

As amoxicillin can only be prescribed by a doctor it is important to be upfront and honest about any underlying conditions, drug abuse, or alcohol consumption in your life.

This will enable your doctor to make an informed choice as to whether or not to prescribe amoxicillin, and where to set the dosage. If your doctor decides that this is the right medication for you, you must do the following things:

  • Read the manufacturers instructions carefully
  • Follow your doctors’ instructions for consumption (usually this means taking a tablet 2 to 3 times a day after food)
  • Take doses regularly
  • If you forget a dose take it as soon as you remember and stick to the routine going forward
  • Complete the full course as prescribed unless instructed otherwise by your doctor
  • Do not skip days
  • Do not drink while taking amoxicillin

Why You Shouldn’t Skip Medications

Some people think that skipping a day or dose when having a drink is the right thing to do, and while not taking amoxicillin when you plan to drink will avoid many of the side effects this is a bad idea.

If you disrupt your medication schedule you may compromise the results of the course and either slow or impede healing and recovery. When it comes to long-term medications such as pain killers used to manage a chronic condition, or antidepressants, drinking moderately or irregularly may not have a huge impact.

Likewise missing one dose of long-term medication may cause disruption or temporary discomfort or regression, but when you disrupt short-term medication courses this can prevent them from achieving the desired results.

As such it is recommended that you wait until you have completed the full course of antibiotics before you resume drinking. In fact, the safest route is to cease drinking the day before you begin taking antibiotics and stop entirely until the day after you take your last dose.

This will ensure that no alcohol is in your system when you begin and that the majority of amoxicillin has been properly processed by your body before you begin drinking again.

Is someone you love struggling to moderate, reduce, or stop alcohol consumption? Do not hesitate to reach out to your doctor or a local alcohol addiction support group. There are many resources available for those who wish help.


Boris is our editor-in-chief at Rehab 4 Addiction. Boris is an addiction expert with more than 20 years in the field.  His expertise covers a broad of topics relating to addiction, rehab and recovery. Boris is an addiction therapist and assists in the alcohol detox and rehab process. Boris has been featured on a variety of websites, including the BBC, Verywell Mind and Healthline.