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


Author: Thomas Roth

Last Updated: 3/03/2022

Cephalexin is an antibiotic that is most commonly used to treat bacterial infections such as pneumonia, respiratory infections, urinary tract infections (UTIs), as well as infections of the bone, skin, ears, and genitals. It works by killing the bacteria associated with the infection. The medication is offered in capsule, tablet, and liquid forms and should be taken by mouth.

What are the Side Effects of Mixing Alcohol and Cephalexin?

The most common side effects of Cephalexin are:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Heartburn
  • Stomach pain
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue and extreme tiredness
  • Confusion.

Symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and confusion are also side effects of alcohol consumption and can have an increased chance of occurring and can impact you to a higher degree. Consuming alcohol with cephalexin or any type of medication can make it difficult to determine which drug is causing the side effects you may be experiencing, and should therefore be treated with caution.

What is the Possible Allergic Reaction of Cephalexin and Alcohol Interaction?

Possible signs of allergic reaction associated with Cephalexin include rash, hives, swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, or eyes, difficulty breathing or swallowing. Although rare, anaphylaxis is possible.

Allergic reaction to Cephalexin is most common in those who have a known allergy to “cephalosporins”, which are a large group of antibiotics created from the mold Acremonium (Cephalosporium), which work similarly to penicillins. Talk to your doctor before taking Cephalexin if you have a known penicillin allergy, as roughly 10% of those allergic to penicillin will also be allergic to cephalosporins.

What is the Effect of Cephalexin and Alcohol Interaction on UTIs?

In general, when someone is suffering from a UTI it is suggested that they avoid potentially irritating beverages such as coffee, tea, and alcohol, and there is evidence to suggest that cutting back on these beverages can help to improve UTI symptoms.

Alcohol is known to hurt the immune system and can therefore worsen your illness or delay your recovery.

Additionally, those who have a UTI are often advised to drink an increased amount of water and alcohol, being that it dehydrates the body, and can prolong the symptoms of the UTI. Therefore, it is generally recommended that when you have a UTI you avoid consuming alcohol to help increase the effectiveness of the antibiotics (such as Cephalexin) that you are on to reduce and relieve your symptoms.

Does Cephalexin Affect the Taste of Alcohol?

No, cephalexin does not directly affect the taste of alcohol. There is a small chance that the medication can leave an aftertaste in your mouth that goes away over time.

Does Cephalexin Affect the Effect of Alcohol?

No, Cephalexin does not directly affect the effect of alcohol when taken in combination. Cephalexin when mixed with alcohol is unlikely to cause adverse reactions, however when mixing drugs with alcohol if a side effect does occur it is often difficult to determine which is causing the side effect. With that being said, alcohol has its own set of side effects such as nausea, vomiting, and dizziness, and some of these are also side effects of the medication – therefore, they can be amplified by the consumption of both.

Can Mixture of Alcohol and Cephalexin Lead to Death?

Yes, a mixture of alcohol and cephalexin can lead to death. While anaphylaxis is considered to be a rare side effect of taking cephalexin it is still possible, and many side effects of both cephalexin and alcohol become amplified when combining the two.

Additionally, most antibiotics are processed in part by the liver, which also processes alcohol; in the case of mixing alcohol with an antibiotic, the liver will prioritize metabolizing the alcohol over the antibiotic which can lead to a delay in the antibiotic being cleared from the body, therefore resulting in a potential build-up and toxicity which can present like an overdose. Symptoms of overdose may include nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, or diarrhea. With many of these also being possible symptoms you may experience when drinking alcohol, it may become difficult to determine which drug is causing them. Please seek medical help immediately if an overdose is suspected.

Who should not Take Alcohol and Cephalexin?

Although there is no specific warning against consuming alcohol while taking cephalexin, combining the two can result in an increased risk for adverse side effects such as nausea, dizziness, and confusion which have the potential to result in more serious injuries.

Those who are at an increased risk of taking cephalexin with alcohol are:

  1. People with a known cephalosporin allergy
  2. People with a known penicillin allergy.
    1. It is advised that if you have a penicillin allergy you should consult your doctor before taking cephalexin as there is a small chance that you could also have an allergy to cephalosporins.

There is also a small chance that Cephalexin can cause additional side effects in those with kidney disease or colitis.

Can I Take Cephalexin with Alcohol While Pregnant?

No, you cannot take cephalexin with alcohol while pregnant.

It is not safe for anyone who is pregnant to be consuming alcohol as it can severely affect the growth and development of the baby. Conditions such as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) can cause a range of effects, with some of the most common being irreversible developmental and growth issues.

Cephalexin and other Cephalosporins are generally considered to be safe for use during pregnancy. It is generally recommended that unless absolutely necessary women avoid taking medications and antibiotics during pregnancy to protect the fetus as much as possible. When this medication is combined with alcohol it can increase the chance of serious side effects that can further harm the fetus.

Cephalexin is known to pass into breast milk and should be used with caution in those who are breastfeeding.

Are all Types of Alcohol Harmful with Cephalexin?

No, all types of alcohol – when consumed in moderation – are not harmful with cephalexin.

How Much Cephalexin can be Dangerous to Take with Alcohol?

The average dose of cephalexin ranges from 250 mg to 1,000 mg daily – the specific dose is dependent on weight – and is generally split into smaller doses taken 2-4 times throughout the day.

There is no specific warning that alcohol consumption is dangerous when taken with cephalexin. Any amount of alcohol when consumed in larger amounts can pose increased risks, especially in contact with medications. The daily recommended alcohol intake is 2 drinks for men and 1 drink for women. A single drink is described as 1 beer, glass of wine, cocktail, or shot.

Does Alcohol Affect How Well Cephalexin will Work?

While moderate alcohol consumption will not reduce the effectiveness of Cephalexin, it is known that the consumption of alcohol can cause a delay or decrease in the absorption of antibiotics which can result in a delay of the beneficial effects of the antibiotic or a build-up of the antibiotic within your system.

How Long After Taking Cephalexin Can You Drink Alcohol?

While consuming modest amounts of alcohol and taking cephalexin is not inherently harmful, it is recommended that you wait approximately 72 hours after finishing your course of antibiotics before consuming alcohol.

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

While there are a large number of drugs that should not be taken with alcohol, some of the most dangerous are:

  • Benzodiazepines
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Antidepressants (SSRIs)
  • Opiates
  • Sleep aids (Melatonin)
  • Allergy Medications (Benadryl)

Keep in mind that these are only some of the most dangerous drugs to use with alcohol. Any drug has the potential to be dangerous when mixed with alcohol if used incorrectly. If you are unsure of the effects a specific drug may have in combination with alcohol, make sure to consult your healthcare provider before consumption.