It is often recommended to avoid alcohol while taking antibiotics, and this is because it has the potential to negatively interact with the antibiotic, making it less effective. If this happens, the antibiotic may not remove all of the harmful bacteria, leaving your infection.
However, this is not true for all antibiotics. For example, it is often okay to drink alcohol while taking doxycycline, although some other medications and supplements should be avoided. Let’s further discuss this.
What Is Doxycycline?
Doxycycline is a type of antibiotic that treats a range of bacterial infections. It belongs to the class of antibiotics called tetracycline antibiotics and destroys bacteria by preventing them from producing the proteins they need to survive and grow.
Can You Drink Alcohol While Taking Doxycycline?
While alcohol is generally fine to drink in moderation while taking doxycycline, some people may be at a greater risk of negating the actions of doxycycline when drinking alcohol.
For example, doxycycline has the potential to interact with alcohol in those with a history of heavy alcohol use or chronic drinking. Additionally, doxycycline and alcohol can interact in those with liver problems.
When doxycycline interacts with alcohol in these individuals, the antibiotic can become less effective. Part of this is because alcohol significantly shortens the half-live of doxycycline, meaning it does not last in the body as long.
However, for those without these health risks, it is often safe to consume a drink or two without impacting how effective doxycycline is.
How Long After Taking Doxycycline Can You Drink Alcohol?
Doxycycline has an average half-life of 12-25 hours. It is estimated that it takes between 4-5 half-lives, following the final dose, for an antibiotic to be out of your system, so it could take more than five days for your body to clear doxycycline from the body completely.
For those at a higher risk of doxycycline and alcohol interactions, it is recommended to wait at least 5 days after the final dose of doxycycline to drink again.
However, while alcohol may not impact the ability of doxycycline (for most people), it can
slow your immune response for up to 24 hours. Because of this, it is recommended to avoid drinking when you are still recovering from an infection to ensure your immune function does not decrease.
If you have already consumed alcohol while still taking doxycycline, it is recommended to avoid additional drinks, especially if you are experiencing an upset stomach, drowsiness, or dizziness.
What Else Should You Avoid While Taking Doxycycline?
There are some medicines and supplements that can affect the efficacy of doxycycline. Namely, antacids, calcium supplements, and laxatives with magnesium can interfere with doxycycline and make it less effective. To avoid this, it is recommended to take doxycycline 1-2 hours before or after taking these products.
Additionally, it is recommended to take doxycycline 2-3 hours before or after taking iron preparations or vitamins containing iron.
Doxycycline can also make your skin more sensitive to sunlight, so it is best to try and avoid unnecessary or prolonged time in the sun. If you do go outside, wear sunglasses, protective clothing, and sunscreen.
If you are taking any medications, herbal products, or supplements, you should inform your doctor so that they can ensure there will be no adverse interactions between doxycycline and what you are taking.
It is also recommended to check with a doctor before taking the following while on doxycycline:
- bismuth subsalicylate
- proton pump inhibitors
- vitamin a supplements
How Should You Take Doxycycline?
Doxycycline comes in multiple forms, such as a capsule, liquid, tablet, or delayed-release tablet.
It is typically taken once or twice a day with a full glass of water, but it is important to follow the prescription instructions provided by your doctor.
For those who experience an upset stomach because of doxycycline, it can be taken with food.
Additionally, it is important to swallow the delayed-release tablets whole, without chewing, splitting, or crushing them, as this can affect the distribution of doxycycline over time.
If you have been prescribed doxycycline in a suspension (liquid), be sure to shake it well before using it to evenly mix the medication.
For those taking doxycycline as a preventative for malaria, it is recommended to begin taking it one or two days before traveling, and you will want to continue taking doxycycline each day you are in the area of high malaria risk and for four weeks after leaving. For an exact timeline, discuss doxycycline for malaria prevention with your doctor.
What Are Doxycycline’s Side Effects?
There are many potential side effects of doxycycline, including:
- loss of appetite
- vaginal discharge
- itching of the rectum
- painful or difficult urination
- swelling, burning, itching, irritation, or redness of the vagina
- dry mouth
- sore throat or nose
- changes in the color of scars, eyes, skin, mouth, or nails
- back pain
- swollen tongue
There are also some serious side effects of doxycycline, including:
- rash with fever or swollen glands
- blurred vision or seeing double
- loss of vision
- joint pain
- difficulty breathing or swallowing
- skin redness, blistering, or peeling
- watery or bloody stools
- stomach cramps
- unusual bruising or bleeding
- swelling in the face, throat, lips, tongue, or eyes
- discoloration of adult teeth
If you experience any of these side effects while taking doxycycline, it is essential to talk to a doctor or seek immediate medical attention.
When To See a Doctor?
If you think that you have an infection, it is recommended to see a doctor so that you can start antibiotics before the infection spreads further.
For those on doxycycline, reach out to your doctor if you develop any severe side effects.
Additionally, if you have finished the course of antibiotics and your symptoms have not improved, speak to your doctor; they may need to prescribe another antibiotic.
Get Help from An Online Doctor
For those with an infection, an online doctor can conveniently evaluate your symptoms and prescribe medication if needed. You can also discuss with your doctor what to avoid while on doxycycline and when it is safe to resume drinking alcohol.
Doxycycline is an antibiotic used to treat a range of bacterial infections. While it is safe for most people to drink a glass or two of alcohol while on doxycycline, those with a chronic drinking history or liver problems should avoid alcohol as it may make doxycycline less effective.
There are other medications and supplements which should not be taken while on doxycycline, so it is always best to discuss with your doctor anything that you may be taking. Doxycycline can remain in the body for up to 5 days following the last dose, so it is also important to be careful with what you take during this time.
For those who need an antibiotic due to an infection, an online doctor can evaluate your symptoms and prescribe the correct antibiotic.
- Sarkar, D., Jung, M. K., & Wang, H. J. (2015). Alcohol and the Immune System. Alcohol Research : Current Reviews, 37(2), 153–155.
- Beyond Hangovers. (2010). National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. https://portal.lackawanna.edu/ICS/icsfs/beyondHangovers.pdf?target=c23c6186-9665-472c-9c65-ffe2ecb78672
- Doxycycline: MedlinePlus Drug Information. (2022). Retrieved 28 August 2022, from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682063.html
- Cunha, B., Domenico, P., & Cunha, C. (2000). Pharmacodynamics of doxycycline. Clinical Microbiology And Infection, 6(5), 270-273. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.1046/j.1469-0691.2000.00058-2.x
- Mergenhagen, K., Wattengel, B., Skelly, M., Clark, C., & Russo, T. (2020). Fact versus Fiction: a Review of the Evidence behind Alcohol and Antibiotic Interactions. Antimicrobial Agents And Chemotherapy, 64(3). doi: https://www.doi.org/10.1128/aac.02167-19
- Neuvonen, P. J., Penttilä, O., Roos, M., & Tirkkonen, J. (1976). Effect of long-term alcohol consumption on the half-life of tetracycline and doxycycline in man. International journal of clinical pharmacology and biopharmacy, 14(4), 303–307.
- Agwuh, K. (2006). Pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of the tetracyclines including glycylcyclines. Journal Of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, 58(2), 256-265. doi: https://www.doi.org/10.1093/jac/dkl224