Updated on August 7, 2023
6 min read

What Happens if You Drink While on Antibiotics?

Can I Drink Alcohol While Taking Antibiotics for a UTI?

It’s essential to avoid alcohol consumption when taking antibiotics for a urinary tract infection (UTI). Drinking alcohol while taking antibiotics can reduce the medication’s effectiveness and increase the risk of side effects.1

UTIs develop when bacteria enter the urinary tract and multiply in the bladder lining.2 Antibiotics work by killing these bacteria or keeping antibodies from reproducing.3

While the effects of drinking alcohol while on UTI medications aren’t devastating, it can produce long-term side effects. 


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What Happens if You Drink Alcohol While on UTI Antibiotics? 

Drinking alcohol while taking antibiotics for UTI typically lessens the medication’s effectiveness and impedes your body’s ability to metabolize alcohol.4 When this happens, it can take longer to recover from urinary tract infections.

When this interruption occurs, the liver prioritizes breaking down alcohol instead of processing the antibiotics to reduce the concentration of alcohol in the bloodstream. 

The immune system is suppressed, and the antibiotics’ ability to eradicate bacteria is compromised. When white blood cells can’t attack the bacteria effectively, it can lead to lingering or recurrent urinary tract infections.

In addition, mixing alcohol and antibiotics can increase the likelihood of experiencing side effects, such as:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Feeling sick
  • An upset stomach1 

Because alcohol is a diuretic, drinking it may cause frequent urination leading to dehydration and slowing the healing process.

Does Drinking Alcohol Worsen UTI Symptoms?

Alcohol can worsen UTI symptoms by causing dehydration.5 Its interactions with UTI medication can also make it harder for the body to flush out bacteria.

UTI symptoms can also worsen due to alcohol’s other effects on the body. These include:

  • Increased urine production
  • Irritated lining of the urinary tract, bladder, and urethra
  • Exacerbated stomach pain, discomfort, and burning sensations during urination
  • Halted absorption of vital nutrients

The side effects alcohol has on your body while on UTI medication may also be worse under the following circumstances:

  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • You have diabetes
  • You suffer from liver problems
  • You have renal impairment

What Should You Avoid While on UTI Antibiotics?

When taking antibiotics for UTIs, mixing alcohol isn’t the only thing you should avoid. Below are a few other substances you should avoid when taking certain antibiotics:

  • Grapefruit juice: Furanocoumarins in grapefruit can interfere with enzyme activity in the liver and intestinal wall, making it challenging to process antibiotics.7 Other citrus fruit juices to avoid include orange juice.
  • Caffeine: This stimulant irritates the bladder and increases urination urgency.8
  • Acidic or spicy food: These types of food irritate the bladder and urinary tract.
  • Unnecessary antibiotics: Take antibiotics only as prescribed by your healthcare provider. Always complete your course and avoid using leftover antibiotics.
  • Sexual activity: Abstain from sex until clearing the infection, as doing so can increase the risk of prolonging your condition.
  • Dairy products or antacids: Combining antibiotics with dairy or antacids can reduce absorption.
  • Delaying urination: Always go to the restroom if you feel the urge to urinate, as holding it allows bacteria in the bladder to multiply.

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Is There an Acceptable Amount of Alcohol I Can Drink While on UTI Medicine?

There is no safe amount of alcohol to consume while taking antibiotics for an infection. If alcohol consumption cannot be avoided, limit yourself to no more than one drink daily. 

You are much better off drinking non-alcoholic beverages. Remember that ‘near beer’ still has noticeable amounts of alcohol.

How Long Should I Wait to Drink Alcohol After Taking UTI Antibiotics?

The time you should wait to drink alcohol after taking UTI antibiotics depends on the specific antibiotic prescribed to you. 

Most antibiotics metabolize and clear within 48 and 72 hours of course completion. However, some antibiotics have a longer half-life.

For instance, metronidazole may demand a longer waiting period. If you’re unsure how long to avoid alcohol after taking UTI antibiotics, consult a healthcare professional.

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How Long Do UTI Antibiotics Stay in Your System?

The length of time UTI antibiotics stay in your system depends on the type of antibiotic, your body’s unique metabolism, and potential antibiotic resistance.9 

Most UTI antibiotics have relatively short half-lives, with medications like nitrofurantoin remaining in the body for only four to five hours. By comparison, medications like metronidazole can remain in the body for up to 44 hours. 

Other UTI antibiotics and how long they take to leave the body include the following: 

  • Amoxicillin: 5-7 hours from the last dose
  • Ciprofloxacin: 10-12 hours from the last dose
  • Rocephin: 2-3 days from the last dose
  • Macrodantin/Macrobid: 3-4 hours from the last dose
  • Levaquin: 1-2 days from the last dose
  • Monurol: 1 day from the last dose
  • Bactrim/Septra: 9-11 hours from the last dose
  • Keflex: 5-7 hours from the last dose

These are general estimates, and individual factors can influence how long these antibiotics take to leave the body. 

Best Practices When Taking Antibiotics for a UTI

Practicing proper care when fighting off a bacterial infection is the quickest road to recovery. If you’re suffering from a UTI, consider these best practices:

1. Follow the Prescribed Dosage and Directions 

Always take your medication as directed by your healthcare provider. Complete the full course of treatment and refrain from introducing other medications unless explicitly instructed.

2. Stay Hydrated

While painful urination may discourage you from increasing your need to go to the bathroom, staying hydrated can flush out bacteria faster. Other beverages you can drink, aside from water, include:

  • Lemon water
  • Coconut water
  • Cranberry juice
  • Green tea
  • Other herbal teas

3. Consume Food Rich in Probiotics and fiber

Consuming necessary nutrients can help your body recover faster. You can get these from foods such as:

  • Greek yogurt
  • Sauerkraut
  • Pickles
  • Bananas
  • Lentils
  • Nuts
  • Oats
  • Beans
  • Whole grains

4. Watch Out for Allergic Reactions

Some medications to treat UTIs can cause rashes, hives, swelling, and irritation. If you notice these signs, seek medical attention immediately.

5. Avoid Certain Foods

Some foods can increase side effects, stimulate bacterial growth, and cause further bladder irritation. These include:

  • Caffeine
  • Spicy foods
  • Citrus fruits
  • Tomato-based foods
  • Sweeteners
  • Sodium

6. Practice Good Hygiene

Always wash your hands after using the restroom to prevent bacterial contamination. If possible, wipe from ‘front to back’ to avoid contamination of the urethra.

7. Differentiate Side Effects

Some side effects are typical of bacterial infections. These include:

  • Brown urine
  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Stomach upset

However, you should report more severe effects like skin infections, increased blood pressure, and liver problems. These could indicate a medical emergency.

8. Avoid Drinking Alcohol

Alcoholic beverages go beyond beer, liquor, wine, and spirits. Some mouthwashes and cold medications contain alcohol and can worsen infection symptoms.

If you consume alcohol while on UTI medication, drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration. If mixing alcohol and antibiotics leads to severe consequences, seek emergency help.


If you’ve been wondering if you can drink alcohol while on antibiotics, drinking alcohol while taking various medications is generally discouraged. 

Combining antibiotics and alcohol increases your risk of prolonged recovery, side effects, and other complications. UTIs themselves are already painful and detrimental to the immune system. Just one alcoholic drink can already slow down recovery.

Should you end up mixing alcohol and antibiotics, consult your doctor immediately.

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Updated on August 7, 2023
9 sources cited
Updated on August 7, 2023
  1. Mergenhagen et al. “Fact versus Fiction: a Review of the Evidence behind Alcohol and Antibiotic Interactions | Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.” Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, 2020.
  2. Leigh, R. “Urinary Tract Infection (eBook).” 2023.
  3. Wenzel, M. “Do we really understand how antibiotics work?” Future Microbiology, 2020.
  4. Komala, M. and Kumar, K.P.S. “Urinary Tract Infection: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis And It’s Management.” Indian Journal of Research in Pharmacy and Biotechnology, 2013.
  5. Oyelami et al. “The Effectiveness of Grapefruit (Citrus paradisi) Seeds in Treating Urinary Tract Infections.” The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2005.
  6. Abbott, E. “Caffeine Intake and Urinary Tract Infections among Older Adults.” Gardner-Webb University.
  7. Prais et al. “Bacterial susceptibility to oral antibiotics in community acquired urinary tract infection.” Archives of Disease in Childhood, 2003.
  8. Schaeffner, E. and Ritz, E. “Alcohol and kidney damage: a Janus-faced relationship.” Kidney International, 2012.
  9. Penning et al. “The Pathology of Alcohol Hangover” 2023.

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