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.

Question

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?

Asked by Pete On Dec 27, 2017

Answered by
Medical Content Reviewed By PharmacistAnswers Staff

On Dec 27, 2017
Female Rejecting Glass Of Alcohol

Overview

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).

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

  • 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.

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.

Section Summary
Alcohol can suppress the immune system and worsen the GI effects of antibiotics. It is recommended to refrain from drinking alcohol while taking azithromycin.

Azithromycin Information

Azithromycin Title

A 'Z-Pak' is a 5 day course of antibiotic azithromycin 250mg. It is used to treat pneumonia, bronchitis, ear infections, sinus infections, and certain sexually transmitted diseases.

If a person's symptoms are caused by something that is not bacterial in nature (for example viral or fungal), azithromycin will not work. When taken by mouth, azithromycin can be taken with or without food.

Azithromycin is generally well tolerated but can cause certain side effects (as listed above).

One of the positives of azithromycin is that it has both a long duration of action and a long half-life (time it takes for 50% of the drug to be metabolized).

The long duration of action allows the drug to be dosed for most indications only once daily.

In addition, due to the long half-life (about 68 hours!), azithromycin continues to work in the body after your last dose.

When it comes to using a Z-Pack, the long half-life is one of the reasons you only need a 5-day course of therapy.

It remains in your body at least 3 to 7 days after you take the last dose. This is how the medication continues to work and fight off your infection for up to 7 to 10 days, even though you only take medication for 5 days.

Section Summary
Azithromycin is a 'macrolide' antibiotic, with a long duration of action and a long half-life.

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.

You can look up additional information regarding azithromycin here:

About the Pharmacist

Dr. Stacy Holcroft

Stacy Holcroft is retail pharmacist specializing in diabetes, heart disease, and oncology. Up to date with new drugs and research in these fields and others.

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