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Augmentin and Alcohol Interaction: Can You Drink Alcohol with Augmentin?


Author: Thomas Roth

Last Updated: 4/01/2022

Augmentin, which is a combination of amoxicillin and clavulanate potassium – is a penicillin-type antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections such as ear, sinus, and urinary tract infections, as well as illnesses such as pneumonia and bronchitis. It will not work for viral infections (cold or flu).

Augmentin is available as extended-release tablets, immediate-release tablets, and oral suspension (liquid). The medication should be taken with a meal or snack, generally, every 8-12 hours as prescribed by your doctor. The dosage varies based on the infection being treated, but some of the most common dosages are 500mg every 8-12 hours, 250mg every 8 hours, and 875mg every 12 hours. The general treatment length is between 3 and 7 days.

What are the Effects of Mixing Alcohol and Augmentin?

Some of the most common side effects of Augmentin are:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

These three side effects are also side effects of alcohol intoxication. If you are mixing alcohol with augmentin, these side effects may be amplified, making it difficult to determine which drug is causing them, and possibly the severity of the side effects.

Some more serious side effects may include:

  • Dark urine
  • Persistent nausea or vomiting
  • Severe stomach or abdominal pain
  • Yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • Easy bruising or bleeding
  • Unusual tiredness

Most of these symptoms are also warning signs of a more serious underlying problem: Liver disease or failure. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please contact a healthcare professional or seek medical attention immediately.

There is also a significant risk for the development of Clostridium difficile (C. difficile). C. difficile is a bacteria that causes infection of the large intestine (colon) and presents many different ways. While some people may only experience diarrhea, it has the potential to develop into life-threatening damage to the colon. Due to the nature of this infection, dehydration also becomes a major risk factor.

Is There any Research that Shows the Risks of Augmentin and Alcohol Interaction?

There is some research that shows the risks of augmentin and alcohol interaction, with most focusing on whether or not alcohol negates the effectiveness of antibiotics. One such article that discusses this topic is “Fact versus Fiction: a Review of the Evidence behind Alcohol and Antibiotic Interactions” by Kari A. Mergenhagen et al. In this article they discuss the ways in which amoxicillin, a major element of augmentin, seems to have a delayed absorption rate when mixed with alcohol, but alcohol does not prevent the absorption of the medication meaning that beneficial aspects of the medication may be delayed, but not negated.

Does Augmentin Affect the Taste of Alcohol?

There is no evidence to suggest that the extended-release tablets of augmentin have any effect on the taste of alcohol. The oral suspension, however, may leave an aftertaste in your mouth, especially in cases in which an additional flavoring is added; this should go away over time.

Can Mixture of Alcohol and Augmentin Lead to Death?

It is unlikely, but not impossible, that the mixture of alcohol and augmentin can lead to death. While there is a significant risk for side effects such as liver failure or damage they are not the only side effects that may occur. Overdose is possible with this combination and may appear as:

  • Persistent vomiting or diarrhea
  • Severe stomach pain
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • hyperactivity

If you are experiencing any of these serious side effects, please contact a healthcare professional or emergency medical services.

Who should not Take Alcohol and Augmentin?

While no one should be taking alcohol and augmentin, there are some people who are at a higher risk for more serious side effects or complications:

  • Those with a known allergy to:
    • Amoxicillin
    • Clavulanic acid
    • Penicillin
    • Cephalosporin
  • History of:
    • Liver disease
    • Kidney disease
  • If you have or have recently had infectious mononucleosis
  • Pregnant women
    • While there are no serious risks associated with taking augmentin while pregnant, it is still highly discouraged to take medications during pregnancy unless absolutely needed and recommended by a healthcare professional. Additionally, alcohol should not be consumed during pregnancy as it poses a risk for serious complications to the fetus such as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) which is known to cause life-long, irreversible developmental and growth complications.
  • Those with Phenylketonuria (PKU)
    • PKU is a rare genetic disorder that increases the level of phenylalanine in the blood, which is a building block of proteins (amino acids) and is found in many artificial sweeteners. This is mostly a concern in relation to the oral suspension (liquid) form of the medication as it may contain aspartame.

Please keep in mind that these are only some of the higher at-risk groups and if you intend to mix alcohol and augmentin you should speak to your doctor about the potential dangers it may pose to you, based on your medical history. The mixture of augmentin and alcohol has the possibility to cause serious side effects for anyone.

Are All Types of Alcohol Harmful with Augmentin?

No, all types of alcohol are not necessarily harmful with augmentin as long as they are consumed in moderation. As there is a significant risk for liver and kidney damage when mixing alcohol and augmentin, you are putting your liver and kidneys under an additional stress when mixing the two, so practicing moderation becomes imperative.

The daily recommended amount of alcohol intake is 1 drink a day for women and 2 drinks a day for men. One alcoholic drink is considered to be either 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of liquor.

Please keep in mind that the interaction between alcohol and augmentin has the possibility to result in adverse side effects or overdose if misused or abused. Additionally, if you fall into one of the at-risk categories, any amount of alcohol can be dangerous with augmentin.

How Much Augmentin Can be Dangerous to Take with alcohol?

There are no specific warnings against drinking alcohol with augmentin, as long as alcohol is consumed in moderation and augmentin is taken as directed. However, those with pre-existing medical conditions, especially liver or kidney disease, are at a higher risk for side effects from the combination of augmentin and alcohol.

How Long Should You Wait to Drink Alcohol after Taking Augmentin?

While there is no strict warning against consuming alcohol while taking augmentin, it is recommended that you wait 48-72 hours after finishing your course of augmentin to drink alcohol in order to have the lowest chance for serious side effects.

Does Alcohol Affect How Well Augmentin will Work?

There is no evidence to suggest that alcohol impacts the effectiveness of augmentin. However, as alcohol lowers your immune system, it is possible that it may take a longer time for you to recover from the illness you are being treated for. There is evidence, as well, that alcohol affects the rate at which amoxicillin, a major component of augmenting, is absorbed by the body which could additionally delay the time it takes you to heal.

Additionally, if you fit into a group that is more at risk for adverse side effects from the combination of alcohol and augmentin, you may experience less of the beneficial aspects of the medication.

What Are Other Drugs That Are Dangerous To Use With Alcohol?

While there are many drugs that have dangerous interactions with alcohol, some of the most dangerous are:

  • Antidepressants
  • Stimulants
  • Opiates
  • Benzodiazepines (such as xanax)
  • Antihistamines (such as Benadryl)
  • Hallucinogens

Please keep in mind that these are only some of the most dangerous, and any drug mixed with alcohol can pose a risk for serious side effects, or even death if used incorrectly or abused. If you are unsure about the potential side effects you may experience, always speak to your healthcare provider first.