What is doxycycline?

Doxycycline is an antibiotic that’s used to treat a variety of bacterial infections, including respiratory and skin infections. It’s also used to prevent malaria, a mosquito-borne disease that’s caused by a parasite.

There are different types, known as classes, of antibiotics. Doxycycline is in the tetracycline class. This class interferes with the bacteria’s ability to make proteins. This prevents bacteria from growing and thriving.

Alcohol can interact with several antibiotics, including doxycycline in some cases.

Can I drink alcohol?

Doxycycline can interact with alcohol in people with a history of chronic drinking or in people with liver problems. In these groups, drinking alcohol while taking doxycycline can make the antibiotic less effective.

But if you’re taking doxycycline and don’t have these risks, you should be fine to have a drink or two without reducing the effectiveness of the antibiotic.

What will happen if I drink alcohol?

Some antibiotics, such as metronidazole and tinidazole, have serious interactions with alcohol that can result in a range of side effects including:

  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • stomach issues
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • headache
  • rapid heart rate

Having one or two alcoholics drinks while taking doxycycline shouldn’t cause any of these effects. But if you’re still getting over an infection, it’s best to avoid drinking alcohol. Drinking alcohol, especially a lot of it, is linked to decreased functioning of your immune system.

What if I’ve already had several drinks?

If you’re taking doxycycline and have been drinking, avoid having any more drinks, especially if you notice:

  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • upset stomach

Mixing doxycycline and alcohol won’t cause any serious health issues. But drinking enough alcohol to feel drunk can impact your recovery. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, getting drunk can slow your body’s immune response for up to up to 24 hours.

Should I avoid anything else while taking doxycycline?

You should always make your doctor aware of any medications or supplements you’re taking, including over-the-counter or herbal products.

While taking doxycycline, also be sure to ask your doctor before taking:

  • antacids
  • anticoagulants
  • barbiturates
  • bismuth subsalicylate, an active ingredient in medications such as Pepto-Bismol
  • anticonvulsants, such as carbamazepine and phenytoin
  • diuretics
  • lithium
  • methotrexate
  • proton-pump inhibitors
  • retinoids
  • vitamin A supplements

Tetracycline antibiotics, including doxycycline, can also make you more sensitive to sunlight. Make sure to wear protective clothing and apply plenty of sunscreens when going outside to avoid getting sunburned.

Pregnant women, women who are nursing, and children under age 8 shouldn’t take doxycycline.

The bottom line

Doxycycline is an antibiotic used to treat a range of bacterial infections. While drinking alcohol while taking certain antibiotics can be risky, it’s generally safe to consume alcohol while taking doxycycline. But try to avoid it if you have a history of chronic drinking or any liver conditions.

Keep in mind that alcohol can slow down your body’s immune response. If you do choose to drink while taking doxycycline, you may be adding another day onto your recovery from the underlying infection.

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