Patients taking antibiotics shouldn't drink alcohol.

  Patients often ask if it's ok to drink alcohol while on antibiotics. Some are being told to avoid alcohol altogether...others are told that a couple of drinks are fine.

  It is true that patients should avoid alcohol while on certain antibiotics...Flagyl, Tindamax, cefazolin, cefmetazole, cefoperazone, and cefotetan. These drugs when taken with alcohol may cause a disulfiram-like reaction...tachycardia, facial flushing, blood pressure changes, etc. This is because these drugs may inhibit the metabolism of alcohol, causing a build-up of acetaldehyde, a toxic by-product.

  In general, these reactions are rare...but patients should be counseled and warned of this potential interaction. Chronic alcohol users are at higher risk because they may have a greater accumulation of acetaldehyde.

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