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Updated on September 13, 2023
4 min read

Can I Drink Alcohol While on Cephalexin?

Joy Emeh
Written by 
7 Sources Cited
Joy Emeh
Written by 
7 Sources Cited

Is it OK to Drink Alcohol While Taking Cephalexin?

There is no reported interaction between alcohol and cephalexin. However, drinking alcohol while on an antibiotic, such as cephalexin, is not generally advised. 

Some people experience unpleasant side effects when taking cephalexin. These may include headache, nausea, and diarrhea. These side effects can worsen with alcohol use. 

It’s generally recommended to avoid alcohol while treating infections. Alcohol can make you feel worse regardless of its impact on the antibiotic’s effectiveness. 

Some antibiotics, such as metronidazole, can cause serious adverse reactions when taken with alcohol. In these cases, avoid alcohol.6


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Side Effects & Dangers of Mixing Cephalexin and Alcohol

Cephalexin has side effects that overlap with those of alcohol consumption. Mixing cephalexin and alcohol may worsen side effects like: 

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

It’s best to avoid drinking alcohol when taking cephalexin or any other antibiotics. Alcohol can impede your body’s natural immune system response. This can result in a slower healing time or worsening symptoms.

What is Cephalexin?

Cephalexin, sold under the brand name Keflex, is an antibiotic that treats bacterial infections in children and adults. It belongs to a class of medicines called cephalosporin antibiotics. It works by killing bacteria.3


Cephalexin kills bacteria that cause infections of the respiratory tract, ears, skin, bone, and genitourinary tract.4 However, it won’t work for viral infections, such as the common cold or flu.

Cephalexin is only available as a prescription medication. It comes in different forms, including tablets, capsules, and a powder for liquid suspension. 


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Side Effects & Risks of Cephalexin

Like other medications, cephalexin can cause side effects, such as:

  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Tiredness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting 
  • Headache
  • Abdominal pain and upset stomach
  • Itching
  • Joint pain
  • Swelling
  • Vaginal discharge or itching
  • Rash
  • Sore or white tongue or mouth (oral thrush)

Serious side effects of cephalexin that may require urgent medical attention include:

  • Severe body rash
  • Yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • Swelling of the joints
  • Unusual bleeding and bruises
  • Confusion and hallucinations
  • Serious allergic reactions

Call 911 and seek medical help immediately if these side effects occur.

Cephalexin may interact with other medications, such as metformin and blood thinners. Tell your doctor about your health history or if you’re taking any other medications or supplements.

Cephalexin must be taken for the full course of treatment. Failure to take all the prescribed medication can lead to antibiotic resistance.


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Does Alcohol Make Antibiotics Less Effective?

Drinking alcohol while taking antibiotics can weaken the immune system. This makes it harder for the body’s defense system to fight off infection.7

If you drink alcohol while taking antibiotics, do so cautiously. Alcohol can cause severe adverse reactions.

Avoid drinking alcohol with the following antibiotics:

  • Metronidazole
  • Cefotetan
  • Cefoperazone
  • Tinidazole
  • Linezolid
  • Cefazolin

Treatment for Alcohol Misuse & Addiction

People with alcohol use disorder (AUD) drink excessively, which can result in negative health consequences. Seek treatment for your alcohol addiction quickly to avoid worsening symptoms or long-term health problems.

Below are some treatment options AUD and addiction:

Inpatient and Outpatient Rehabilitation

People with alcohol addiction frequently need rehabilitation to recover from their addiction. 

Inpatient care involves admitting the person into the rehabilitation facility and undergoing intensive care and monitoring. Outpatient care works around the person’s schedule and doesn’t require them to stay overnight.

Multisystemic Therapy (MST)

This therapy is focused on Youth Alcohol Recovery and involves contacting and engaging the family of the young person with AUD. The aim is to determine the root cause of the addiction and help the physician determine the best treatment option. 


The use of medicines, also called medication-assisted treatment (MAT), is another effective treatment option for AUD. Disulfiram (Antabuse) may help prevent drinking. Other medications, like Naltrexone and Acamprosate, can help treat alcohol addiction.

Aftercare Programs and Support Groups

The need for continuous support after undergoing intensive treatment is essential. Joining a support group can help you recover from your addiction and cope with lifestyle changes and relapse management.


Avoid combining alcohol with an antibiotic like cephalexin.  Mixing the two can weaken the immune system and make the drug ineffective.

If you have an alcohol use disorder, seek help quickly to avoid worsening symptoms or long-term health problems. Different treatment options are available to help you recover.

Updated on September 13, 2023
7 sources cited
Updated on September 13, 2023
All Alcoholrehabhelp content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable media sites, academic research institutions and, whenever possible, medically peer reviewed studies.
  1. Booze and Poos! What Alcohol Does to Your Digestive System!” Association of Registered Colon Hydrotherapists, 2016.
  2. Castle, S. “Cephalexin.” X-Pharm: The Comprehensive Pharmacology Reference, 2007.
  3. Cefalexin.” National Health Service, UK, 2020.
  4. Cephalexin ABM Capsules.” Medsafe, New Zealand Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Authority, 2019.
  5. Cephalexin.” Medline Plus, 2016.
  6. Klasco, R “Can I Drink Alcohol While Taking Antibiotics?” The New York Times, 2018.
  7. Watson, K and McKnight, J. “Why You Shouldn’t Drink Alcohol While Taking Antibiotics, According to Doctors.” Insider Health, 2021.
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All content created by Alcohol Rehab Help is sourced from current scientific research and fact-checked by an addiction counseling expert. However, the information provided by Alcohol Rehab Help is not a substitute for professional treatment advice.
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