Metronidazole & Alcohol

What is Metronidazole (Flagyl)?

Metronidazole, also known by its brand name Flagyl, is an FDA-approved antibiotic and antiprotozoal drug used to treat various bacterial infections, including those that affect the:

  • Gastrointestinal system
  • Stomach or intestines
  • Respiratory tract
  • Skin
  • Brain
  • Heart
  • Liver
  • Reproductive system and vagina, specifically bacterial vaginosis (not yeast infections)

Users of metronidazole should not consume alcohol while taking the medication.

Like most antibiotics, metronidazole is prescribed for approximately 10 days. Although a user might feel better within a few days, it’s important to follow the prescribed drug information guidelines and finish the entire course or the infection could return. 

Someone who experiences alcohol withdrawal symptoms might be especially tempted to stop using metronidazole before completing the entire prescribed course or to drink alcohol while using the medication. 

Speak to your doctor if either of these issues concern you.

What Will Happen if You Drink Alcohol While Taking Metronidazole?

The adverse effects of metronidazole are unpleasant but relatively mild depending on the amounts of alcohol consumed. They include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Discolored urine
  • Dry mouth

Tingling in the hands and feet due to how the mixture affects the central nervous system

Mixing alcohol with metronidazole causes additional side effects, some of which are severe. These include:

  • Reddening or flushing of the face
  • Headaches
  • Abdominal pain
  • Cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sudden blood pressure drop
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Liver damage

Risk Factors of Mixing Metronidazole and Alcohol 

The adverse effects of metronidazole are unpleasant but relatively mild depending on the amounts of alcohol consumed. They include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Discolored urine
  • Dry mouth
  • Tingling in the hands and feet due to how the mixture affects the central nervous system

Mixing alcohol with metronidazole causes additional side effects, some of which are severe. These include:

  • Reddening or flushing of the face
  • Headaches
  • Abdominal pain
  • Cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sudden blood pressure drop
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Liver damage

What Happens If I Overdose?

You should seek immediate medical help if you believe you or a loved one has overdosed on metronidazole or any other drug. 

Symptoms of overdose include:

  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Problems with muscle coordination
  • Pain, burning, tingling, or numbness in the hands or feet
  • Seizures

Metronidazole and Alcohol FAQs

Does alcohol make metronidazole ineffective? 

Like most antibiotics, metronidazole is not as effective for curing an infection when combined with alcohol. Even if you do not experience any of the negative side effects associated with mixing the two, you are at risk for not eliminating the problems if you drink alcohol while taking metronidazole.
 
Make sure you speak to your healthcare provider about your concerns if you are prescribed metronidazole and do not believe you can abstain from alcohol use during the entire length of the antibiotic course. He or she can provide medical advice or alternatives for treatment.

Can I drink alcohol 12 hours after taking metronidazole?

No, not without putting yourself at risk for potential side effects. Metronidazole remains in a person’s system for up to 48 hours after taking the drug. This means you should wait at least that long before consuming alcohol after your last dose of the medication.

Can I drink 24 hours after taking metronidazole?

No, 24 hours is still not enough time between using metronidazole and drinking alcohol. On average, the drug remains in your system for at least 48 hours, which means you’ll be at risk for side effects if you drink.

What other drugs will affect metronidazole?

Metronidazole is known to interfere with a variety of drugs in addition to alcohol. These drug interactions include prescription and over-the-counter medications, as well as nutrition supplements. 

Tell your doctor about your health history or if you are taking any of the following and he or she prescribes metronidazole:

  • Aspirin
  • Benadryl
  • Ibuprofen
  • Mucinex
  • Lyrica
  • Acetaminophen
  • Probiotics
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D3
  • Antidepressants
  • Hydrocodone
  • Prednisone
  • Warfarin
  • Xanax

Metronidazole boosts the efficiency of blood-thinning medications, which can increase someone’s risk for abnormal bleeding. In many cases, doctors will reduce the dose of a patient’s usual blood-thinning medication when used in combination with metronidazole.

Additionally, the use of metronidazole can be problematic for individuals with certain existing health conditions. For example:

Kidney or Liver Disease

Metronidazole, like many medications, is hard on the kidneys and liver and might not be appropriate for patients with kidney or liver disease.

Crohn’s Disease

People with Crohn’s disease have experienced complications while using metronidazole. Your doctor will likely alter the dose or opt for a different antibiotic if this is an issue for you.

Anyone using metronidazole should limit their time outdoors because the drug is known to increase sensitivity to sun exposure. If staying indoors is impossible, make sure you wear sunscreen and protective clothing.

Resources

“Metronidazole: MedlinePlus Drug Information.” Medlineplus.Gov, Nov. 2019, medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a689011.html.

“Metronidazole (Oral Route) Description and Brand Names - Mayo Clinic.” Mayoclinic.Org, 2019, www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/metronidazole-oral-route/description/drg-20064745.

Updated on: October 15, 2020
Author
Alcohol Rehab Help Writing Staff
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Medically Reviewed
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Annamarie Coy,
BA, CADACII/ICADC, ICPR, MATS
About
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. For more information read out about us.

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