When Can I Drink Alcohol After Taking Azithromycin?

It generally is not recommended to drink alcohol while recovering from an infection or while taking antibiotics.

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Dec 27, 2017

Pete asked

I have a prescription for a Z Pack of azithromycin. I took it as prescribed and ended taking it today. When can I have an alcoholic drink?

At a glance

  • Azithromycin is a 'macrolide' antibiotic, with a long duration of action and a long half-life.
  • When recovering from an infection, it is recommended to abstain from alcohol. Alcohol can also increase the risk of certain side effects (like nausea) when used with antibiotics like azithromycin.

Answer

Female Rejecting Glass Of Alcohol

Alcohol consumption while taking medication, especially antimicrobials, often brings concerns from patients and healthcare professionals alike.

Alcohol certainly can interact with medication in a variety of ways including altering how they are metabolized or augmenting/diminishing the intended effect.

Having said that, there is no drug interaction between azithromycin and alcohol, but it generally is not recommended to drink alcohol while recovering from an infection or with any antibiotic (azithromycin included).[1]

Alcohol has been shown to decrease immune system function in certain individuals and can potentially increase the side effects of azithromycin such as:[2]

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Upset stomach
  • Abdominal pain

Alcohol - 'Z-Pak' Interaction

While studies show that alcohol doesn't appear to reduce the effectiveness of the actual drug (azithromycin), alcohol is generally recommended to be avoided when recovering from an infection.

Alcohol can cause dehydration, increasing the time it takes to return to normal health.

Hydration is extremely important for the recovery process and any substance that reduces hydration levels (e.g. caffeine, alcohol), should be avoided.

In addition, multiple studies show that high consumption of alcohol does, in fact, suppress the immune system and can increase the risk of infectious disease.[3]

It is unknown exactly what level of consumption causes negative changes, but if you can avoid consumption while recovering from an active infection, it would be prudent to do so.

All in all, it is thought that drinking can slow the overall healing process. It is generally recommended to wait at least 24 hours after finishing your Z-Pak before consuming alcohol to make sure you are feeling well and to minimize any chance of side effects.

Final Words

Again, there is no 'drug-drug' interaction when taking alcohol after administration with azithromycin, as mentioned above.

However, if you are experiencing any symptoms from medication use such as nausea or abdominal pain, alcohol may worsen those side effects.

Azithromycin lasts in the body for a considerable period of time, 7 to 10 days. If you wish to completely avoid alcohol while the drug is present in your body, you would need to wait that period of time.

However, drinking alcohol 24 hours after your last dose of azithromycin would generally not cause any excess nausea.

References
  1. ^ Elsevier ClinicalKey: Azithromycin Monograph. ClinicalKey (Subscription Required)
  2. ^ Alcohol and the Immune System PubMed
  3. ^ Alcohol abuse, alcoholism, and damage to the immune system--a review. PubMed
  4. ^ Prescribing azithromycin PubMed

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