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Why Can't You Drink On Metronidazole - Metronidazole and Alcohol Interaction

Metronidazole is a commonly prescribed antibiotic used to treat various infections, including bacterial vaginosis. A common question that arises is what happens if you consume alcohol while taking this medication. This article will explore the effects of drinking alcohol with metronidazole.

What Happens If You Drink Alcohol with Metronidazole?

Avoidance of Alcohol: According to the NHS guidelines, it's best to completely avoid alcohol while taking metronidazole and continue to avoid it for 48 hours after stopping the medication.

Unpleasant Side Effects: Drinking alcohol with metronidazole can cause very unpleasant side effects, such as:

  • Feeling and being sick
  • Stomach pain
  • Hot flushes
  • A fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Headaches
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Feeling drowsy

Why Can't You Drink on Metronidazole?

  • Disulfiram-like Reaction: mentions that the combination of metronidazole and alcohol can cause a reaction similar to disulfiram, leading to symptoms like flushing, headaches, nausea, vomiting, and stomach cramps.
  • Lack of Concrete Evidence: Despite the common warning, some studies have shown that the combination does not necessarily cause problems. The reaction may not occur in everyone, and the concern might be overstated.
  • Need for More Research: There is a need for more research to understand this potential interaction, especially to identify the susceptible sub-group of people. Until more is known, it is advised to err on the side of caution and avoid alcohol while taking metronidazole.

How Long After Taking Metronidazole Can I Drink Alcohol?

  • No Convincing Evidence: A review published on PubMed found no convincing evidence of a disulfiram-like interaction between ethanol and metronidazole.
  • Possibility of Other Causes: The warning against simultaneous use of alcohol and metronidazole may be based on individual case histories where the reactions could have been caused by ethanol alone or adverse effects of metronidazole.

The question of what happens if you drink alcohol with metronidazole is not as straightforward as it seems. While there is a common warning against the combination, recent research and insights reveal a lack of concrete evidence to support this warning.

The general advice remains to avoid alcohol while taking metronidazole, mainly due to the potential unpleasant side effects and the lack of clarity on the exact interaction between the two substances. However, the controversy surrounding this topic highlights the need for further research to understand the true nature of this interaction. Until then, it is wise to follow medical guidelines and abstain from alcohol when prescribed metronidazole, especially if it is being used to treat conditions like bacterial vaginosis.

Authored & Reviewed By

Mohamed Imran Lakhi

MPharm - Lead Pharmacist
Imran Lakhi is the superintendent pharmacist and founder at Prescription Doctor. He has been at the core of our team.

Published on: 11/08/2023 Reviewed on: 01/11/2023
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