Fact Checked

Can You Take Augmentin and Alcohol Together?

More than half of all adults in the U.S take at least one prescription medication.  For people who are not on prescription drugs, many regularly take over-the-counter medications that do not require a prescription for common medical problems like seasonal allergies. Even if you do not take any medications on a regular basis, chances are that you’ve taken common painkillers such as acetaminophen or aspirin for a headache. All of these drugs, regardless of whether they require a prescription or not, have certain restrictions on what kinds of other drugs can you can take with them, or what food and drink you can consume along with them. Even vitamins and supplements that you take regularly have restrictions on the types of drugs and foods you can consume with them.  One of the most common things people look for when taking any drug is whether you can consume alcohol along with it. Many medications that can cause side effects such as drowsiness and dizziness can be exacerbated by drinking alcohol along with it. Other drugs may cause an adverse reaction to occur when combined with alcohol. Therefore, it is extremely important to always check whether the medication you are taking can be safely combined with alcohol. 

Antibiotics are one category of prescription drugs that are among the most commonly prescribed medicines annually in the U.S. Antibiotics are drugs that can halt the growth of bacteria that causes infections which may cause serious complications and even lead to fatality if not treated. With the number of hospital admissions due to bacterial infections on the rise in the U.S, the amount that antibiotics are being prescribed is also increasing. Luckily, in most cases, if antibiotics are taken promptly and as directed, they can help clear the infection by getting rid of the harmful bacteria that causes it. Augmentin is a popular antibiotic that is part of the beta-lactam antibiotic group that also includes penicillin, which is very effective in treating bacterial infections. Augmentin is currently on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Drugs, highlighting its importance as a staple in medical care all over the world.  

What is Augmentin?

Augmentin is a combination of the penicillin-derivative, amoxicillin, and the beta-lactamase inhibitor clavulanic acid. Sometimes, bacteria can acquire resistance towards antibiotics over time, and such antibiotic-resistant bacteria can become notoriously difficult to treat. One way bacteria achieve this antibiotic resistance is by producing certain substances, called beta-lactamases, that can break down the administered beta-lactam antibiotic. Clavulanic acid can prevent the bacteria from being able to produce these substances. Hence, combining clavulanic acid with amoxicillin can treat bacterial infections much more efficiently than just amoxicillin alone. This powerful combination has proven to be effective against bacterial infections that can normally become resistant to the beta-lactam antibiotics (such as penicillins) alone. So, what is Augmentin used for? Augmentin is widely prescribed for infections such as:

  • Sinus infection
  • Respiratory tract infection
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Skin infection
  • Tonsillitis 
  • Ear infection
  • Pneumonia

So, if you are prescribed Augmentin to treat or prevent an infection, it is essential that you take it as prescribed in order for the treatment to be effective and prevent further complications. 

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Can you take Augmentin and alcohol together?

One of the first things you should do is to check whether other drugs that you are taking might interact with Augmentin. To avoid drug interactions, be sure to let your doctor or pharmacist know about current drugs that you are taking. These include over-the-counter drugs that you take regularly too. 

What about alcohol? Many adults wonder if it is safe to drink alcohol while taking their prescribed course of antibiotics. Is it safe to drink alcohol along with your course of Augmentin? We all know that every drug comes with the risk of experiencing side effects. Taking Augmentin also has common side effects associated with it, such as diarrhea and nausea, and it is important to know whether consuming alcohol along with Augmentin can make each side effects worse. 

The short answer is that while drinking alcohol with Augmentin may not cause a potentially dangerous reaction to happen, most health professionals do not recommend mixing alcohol with antibiotics. Alcohol can increase side adverse effects such as dizziness, upset stomach, and vomiting that could occur with taking Augmentin. Additionally, alcohol itself can cause dehydration and weaken your immune system, which can both interfere with the normal healing process that is important for clearing a bacterial infection from your body. While taking antibiotics, you should drink plenty of fluids and avoid activities that can prevent you from getting good sleep. Alcohol can interfere with your normal sleeping patterns, so if it prevents you from getting proper rest, this could delay the time it takes for you to get better even though you are taking antibiotics for this purpose.  

Does alcohol make Augmentin less effective?

Drinking small quantities or in moderation is not thought to directly lessen the ability of Augmentin to treat an infection. However, depending on the amount of alcohol that is consumed and the drinking habits of the individual taking it, the levels of antibiotic in the bloodstream could be altered with alcohol. As both alcohol and certain antibiotics are metabolized in the liver, this can impede the ability of the enzymes in the liver to break drown the drug in the body once it is taken, which is important for step for it to work properly. Alcohol consumption could technically cause the antibiotic to be broken down too fast or too little, depending on the drinking habits of the individual. Therefore, while drinking alcohol will most likely not prevent Augmentin from working, if it is something that you can avoid, it is recommended. 

It should also be noted that although taking Augmentin and alcohol together may not be considered dangerous, alcohol should never be mixed with certain antibiotics such as metronidazole (Flagyl), tinidazole (Tindamax), sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim), cefotetan (Cefotan) or linezolid (Zyvox).  Mixing alcohol with these antibiotics can cause very serious adverse reactions in the individual to occur, such as a rapid heart rate, difficulty breathing, chest pain, nausea, and vomiting. Most medications that may have an interaction with alcohol have a label that clearly states ‘Avoid Alcohol’ on them, so this should help serve as a reminder if you are prescribed these medications. 

As always, your personal medical history may also play a factor in whether it is safe to drink alcohol while taking Augmentin. The presence of certain pre-existing conditions in some people may weaken the immune system or cause other medical problems in people when they are sick from a bacterial infection. In these cases, you should check with your doctor on whether it is safe to drink alcohol while you are taking antibiotics. Additionally, the severity and location in the body of the infection may require taking higher doses of the antibiotic, which could increase your risk of experiencing Augmentin side effects. In these cases, mixing alcohol with the antibiotic may worsen these adverse effects. 

Along with alcohol, you should also check whether any drugs that you are currently taking could interact with Augmentin. Your doctor or pharmacist should be able to help you with this. More information on Augmentin dosage, a complete list of side effects, and potential drugs interactions can be found  here

How to save on Augmentin

A prescription is always required to purchase Augmentin. If you develop symptoms of a bacterial infection and consult your doctor, you may be given Augmentin to treat the infection. It is important that antibiotics are taken exactly as directed by your doctor. You should take the entire course of antibiotics, even if your symptoms resolve before your prescribed course is over to prevent the infection from recurring or from becoming resistant to Augmentin in the future. Augmentin is a brand name that can also be purchased as a generic form as amoxicillin and clavulanate potassium. 

Finding ways to save on the cost of taking antibiotics like Augmentin are possible. Drug coupons are available from USA Rx that can help you substantially reduce the cost of buying Augmentin. These drug coupons can be printed from the comfort of your home and presented at your pharmacy when filling your prescription. You can get an average of 53.35% savings on Augmentin through USA Rx. Additionally, to save on more than one prescription drug, a convenient pharmacy discount card is available here that can be used for any FDA-approved drug. You can sign up online and the process takes just a few minutes. Simply print the card and present it at your pharmacy when filling your prescription. If you are taking more than one drug, this discount card is right for you. 

So, if you are prescribed Augmentin and are wondering whether to have that glass of wine that is a part of your nightly routine, the bottom line is that while it may not cause you harm, it certainly won’t help you get better either. Instead, focus on getting proper rest, drinking plenty of water-based fluids and eating well to help you get better faster, and allow Augmentin to work as well as it can in clearing the bacterial infection. 

Published August 5th, 2020 by Chris Riley
Fact Checked by Chris Riley

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