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

Author: Thomas Roth

Last Updated: 6/04/2023

Cipro (Ciprofloxacin) is an antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections; it is considered to be a quinolone antibiotic that works to stop the growth of bacteria. It is important to remember that this medication will only treat bacterial infections and will not work on illnesses such as cold or flu.

This medication is available as extended-release tablets, tablets, or liquid suspension and is taken by mouth. This medication should be accompanied by plenty of fluids. The most common doses of Cipro range from 250mg-750mg 1-2 times a day for moderate infections, but can be up to 1000mg 1-2 times a day for more serious infections.

Cipro has the chance to bind to several other products and medications that can make it less effective.

Some of these are listed below.

  • Quinapril
  • Sevelamer
  • Sucralfate
  • Vitamins and minerals (such as iron or zinc)
  • Products that contain magnesium, aluminum, or calcium (such as antacids)
  • Calcium-rich dairy products

Learn more about Cipro below.

What are the Effects of Mixing Alcohol and Cipro?

Mixing alcohol and Cipro can lead to many effects. While there aren’t many reactions between the substances, consuming alcohol can increase the side effects of Cipro. Furthermore, Cipro can do the same for the side effects of alcohol.

1. Nausea

First and foremost, alcohol and Cipro can lead to nausea. Nausea occurs when the stomach is uncomfortable and produces a feeling of wanting to vomit. Nausea is a side effect of Cipro that can be made worse by consuming alcohol with Cipro. This is because alcohol can also cause people to feel nauseous. Nausea is harmful because it can lead to vomiting, dehydration, and other negative health effects.

2. Vomiting

Vomiting is a serious side effect that can occur when mixing alcohol and Cipro. Vomiting is likely to occur when the substances are abused in high quantities. Alcohol alone can also produce vomiting when consumed in large amounts. When alcohol is mixed with Cipro the risk of vomiting is increased. Vomiting is dangerous because it can lead to dehydration and choking during sleep.

3. Dizziness

Dizziness is a common side effect of alcohol consumption. While dizziness is a common side effect of alcohol consumption, Cipro can also make people feel dizzy. When the substances are combined, dizziness can become worse and lead to dangerous side effects. For example, people will have an increased risk of nausea, vomiting, and fainting; all of which are dangerous conditions.

4. Stomach Upset

Combining alcohol and Cipro can also lead to an upset stomach. Alcohol irritates the stomach lining and causes discomfort when consumed in large quantities. A side effect of Cipro is nausea, which can be made worse by alcohol consumption. When this occurs, people are likely to experience an upset stomach and other serious stomach problems.

5. Liver Problems

Liver problems are most easily identified by symptoms such as jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes), unusual tiredness, and stomach or abdominal pain. As alcohol is metabolized by the liver, consumption can put an additional strain. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms please seek medical attention immediately.

Other side effects of alcohol and the liver are listed below.

  • Lightheadedness
  • Trouble Sleeping
  • Headaches

While more serious side effects are found here.

  • Unusual bruising or bleeding
  • Signs of new infection (such as fever)
  • Kidney problems
  • Severe dizziness or fainting
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat (tachycardia)
  • Signs of a tear or break in the main blood vessel (the aorta)
  • Sudden, severe pain in the back, stomach, or chest
  • Shortness of breath

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms please seek medical attention immediately as they have the potential to be life-threatening.

There is a small chance that this medication can cause C. difficile, a very serious intestinal infection that can appear weeks to months after you have finished your course of the medication. Early signs of this infection include diarrhea, abdominal or stomach pain and cramping, and blood in your stool. This infection has the potential to be life-threatening if not taken seriously.

Use of this medication for an extended period results in a higher chance for you to develop new yeast infections or thrush. When combined with alcohol, which is known to lower your immune function, these can become serious infections.

Although rare, allergic reactions are possible and may present as the following issues listed below.

  • Rash
  • Itching
  • Swelling of the face, tongue, or throat
  • Severe dizziness
  • Difficulty breathing

Any signs of an allergic reaction should be treated as a medical emergency and you should speak to a medical professional to decide what the next steps are for you.

Do Cipro and Alcohol Affect the Liver?

Yes, the combination of alcohol and Cipro does affect the liver.

Cipro is known to have the potential to cause acute liver damage and alcohol is metabolized by the liver. When combined, this mixture places an increased strain on the liver which raises the chances for complications.

As both Cipro and alcohol are metabolized by the liver, the liver will generally prioritize the metabolization of alcohol over that of medication when faced with both. Aside from strain, this can pose a risk for a build-up of the medication in your system and higher chances for toxicity.

Does Cipro Affect the Taste of Alcohol?

In general, the tablet form of Cipro should not affect the taste of alcohol. However, if the tablets are chewed or crushed they can have a bitter taste. In general, these tablets should not be chewed, crushed, or split unless marked with a scoreline or instructed to do so by a healthcare professional.
If you experience the bitter taste it should go away over time, but can affect the taste of alcohol in the short term.

Can Mixture of Alcohol and Cipro Lead to Death?

While unlikely, it is possible that the mixture of alcohol and Cipro can lead to death, especially in cases where alcohol is not consumed in moderation or either drug is misused or abused. What is more likely to occur is overdose which commonly presents as passing out or having difficulty breathing. These symptoms should be taken seriously and you should seek medical attention immediately. So yes, alcohol-related death is possible when mixing alcohol and cipro.

Who Should Not Take Alcohol and Cipro?

While no one should be taking alcohol and Cipro together, some groups face an increased risk for serious complications or side effects. These groups and individuals are listed below.

  • Those with a known allergy to quinolone antibiotics (such as norfloxacin, gemifloxacin, levofloxacin, moxifloxacin, or ofloxacin
  • Diabetes
    • This medication has the potential to cause serious changes in blood sugar, as well as the potential to increase the blood-sugar-lowering effects of glyburide.
  • Heart problems
  • Joint or tendon problems (such as tendonitis)
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Mental or mood disorders (such as depression)
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Nerve problem
  • Seizures
  • Blood vessel problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Certain genetic conditions including Marfan syndrome and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome

Additionally, this combination has the chance to cause QT prolongation, which affects the timing between heartbeats, especially in those with a personal or family history of heart problems such as heart failure, slow heartbeat, or sudden cardiac death. In older adults, there is an increased risk for tendon problems.

For those who are or plan to become pregnant, this medication should only be used if deemed necessary by your health care professional. Alcohol should never be consumed during pregnancy as it poses the risk of birth complications such as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) which can cause lifelong, irreversible growth and developmental challenges for the baby. Mixing alcohol with medication during pregnancy can increase the chance of complications.

This medication is known to pass into breast milk and poses a risk for undesirable effects on the child. Therefore, you should speak to your doctor before attempting to breastfeed while on this medication.

Are all Types of Alcohol Harmful with Cipro?

No, all types of alcohol are not inherently harmful when mixed with Cipro in moderation; however, all types of alcohol have the potential to be harmful when misused or abused.

While not inherently harmful in moderation, all types of alcohol have the potential to be dangerous when used with Cipro, especially if used incorrectly or abused.

How Much Cipro Can be Dangerous to Take with Alcohol?

While there are no specific warnings against taking Cipro and alcohol, you should still be cautious and only consume alcohol in moderation.

One of the main side effects to be aware of is an increased chance of dehydration when these two medications are combined. Additionally, the mixture has the potential to amplify side effects such as dizziness, nausea, and vomiting and it may be difficult to determine which drug is causing these side effects or the severity of them.

The recommended moderate intake of alcohol is 1 drink a day for women or 2 drinks a day for men. 1 drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of liquor.

How Long Should You Wait to Drink Alcohol After Taking Cipro?

As there are no specific warnings against drinking alcohol, in moderation, while taking Cipro, there is no set time to wait before alcohol consumption. However, it is recommended that you wait until you have finished your course of treatment to ensure that the medication is working to the best of its ability.

Does Alcohol Make Cipro Less Effective?

No, alcohol does not make Cipro less effective. However, alcohol has the potential to lower your immune system which can delay the time it takes for recovery or make it more difficult for you to recover from the illness you are being treated for.

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

It’s always important to speak with your doctor about medications and alcohol. Mixing alcohol with certain medications increases the risk of death, which is true of cipro and other medications.

Some of the most dangerous drugs to use with alcohol are listed below.

Please keep in mind that these are only some of the most dangerous, and any drug has the potential to be dangerous with alcohol when used incorrectly or abused.