yeh it is totally true to not drink on antibiotics.... i drink all the time... when i went to have a beer on antibioitics.. i took a few sips of beer and felt like i drank 5 beers.. do not drink on antibiotics.
We’ve all been there: You’re finishing up a course of antibiotics when your best friend’s birthday bash, your family’s annual wine-tasting tour, or the notoriously rowdy office Christmas party sneaks up on you.
Technically, you’re not supposed to drink. But at events like these, not drinking is not an option—or at least not an option you’d like to consider.
So how bad is it really to take your penicillin with a glass of Pinot? And should you be worrying about interactions between the other pills you pop, like birth control or acne medication?
The answer is, it depends. “There aren’t a lot of really bad interactions, but there are a lot that are possible,” says Arthur Harralson, PharmD, professor of Pharmacogenomics and Associate Dean for Research at Shenandoah University in Virginia.
So while anything’s possible, a few potentially risky mixes are well worth every woman’s attention. Read on to learn which combos to watch out for.
Alcohol and Antibiotics
A few years ago, a friend of mine finally snagged a hot date with a long-time crush. The pair went to one of her favorite restaurants and waited for the sparks to fly. But after only a few sips of beer, all that flew was my friend’s date—to the bathroom, where he remained most of the night.
So what turned the dream date into a nightmare? Antibiotics.
Fortunately, such a strong reaction is rare and reserved for only a few kinds of antibiotics. Unfortunately, we don’t know which kind the guy was on—my friend didn’t anticipate needing to know three years later for the sake of this column (I guess I’ll forgive her).
But there’s one that women, in particular, should watch out for: Flagyl, a medication that’s used to treat bacterial vaginosis and trichomoniasis, a common STD. Even the trace amounts of alcohol in mouthwash are enough to trigger irrepressible bouts of nausea when gargled while on Flagyl.
Drugs that can cause drowsiness like muscle-relaxants, some anti-histamines, and seizure medications also have the potential for harm when mixed with alcohol, says Harralson, because they all slow down your system. “It’s true for men, but it’s more true for women,” he notes.
So if a wedding’s open bar calls before your sinus infection clears, proceed with caution. You may know how your body handles alcohol normally, but adding another substance changes the game—and for the sake of the bride, your date, and your health, that’s a game you don’t want to lose.
Antibiotics and Birth Control
For years, I’ve used a family friend’s surprise pregnancy as proof that antibiotics negate the function of birth control pills. “Make sure you use a condom!” I’ve preached to friends who return from the doctor’s office with an antibiotic prescription.
Apparently, my scare tactic may have been no more than just that. According to Megan Evans, MD, an Ob/Gyn resident at Tufts University School of Medicine, “there’s actually only one antibiotic that decreases the efficacy of birth control pills.” And the one she is referring to, Rifampin, is relatively unusual: You’d probably only be put on it if you got tuberculosis.
But though the evidence is weak for other antibiotics, it’s conceivable—no pun intended—that they could also decrease the efficacy of birth control pills. “Most professional organizations don’t think it could happen, but I still say don’t risk it,” advises Harralson. Even if all a condom gives you is peace of mind, it’s well worth it.
Soy and Caffeine
From soy milk to tofu burgers to edamame, it’s almost hard not to eat soy these days. And for the most part, that’s a good thing: It’s high in protein, low in calories, and could help keep your blood pressure low. But soy can also act like estrogen in the body, affecting how you metabolize certain types of drugs, including caffeine and some used to treat asthma and high blood pressure.
“When your estrogen levels go up, your ability to metabolize certain drugs go down,” says Harralson, and that means that drugs stay in your system longer. (This effect is also true—and even more pronounced—when your estrogen levels go up for other reasons, like getting pregnant or starting hormonal birth control.)
If you’re an edamame enthusiast—and always have been—take this info as more of a fun fact than a cause for concern. But if you’ve recently traded your meat-eating lifestyle for soy-loving veganism, ease up on the espresso and tell your doctor. He or she might cut back the dosages of other medications to stave off an overload.
When it comes to messy medication mixes, unfortunately, there aren’t many hard and fast rules. Everybody’s different. Your body size, genes, diet, and even whether or not you take a daily vitamin can make a difference in how exactly how your body handles any one combo.
When in doubt, always ask your doctor or pharmacist, but stick to open-ended questions like “what might happen if I drink alcohol while on this medication?” rather than yes-or-no questions like “can I drink?” By knowing what the real risk is, you can proceed with caution when necessary, and otherwise enjoy that party, sex, or soy latte without the side effect of worry.