Alcohol & Cephalexin

Fact Checked

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Cephalexin is an antibiotic. This means it is a drug that kills or at least slows down the growth of bacteria. Bacteria can cause infections, so antibiotics are prescribed for bacterial infections. They belong to the class of drugs called antimicrobials. This is a larger group of medications that includes anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-parasitic drugs. Physicians often urge people to avoid consuming alcohol while on antibiotics or antimicrobials.


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According to Steady Health's website, it is a myth that mixing any antibiotic with alcohol can be very destructive. They suggest that only a few antibiotics are dangerous when combined with alcohol, and cephalexin is not one of them. However, even Steady Health admits that ingesting alcohol while on cephalexin can increase the drug's excretion rate or slow down the rate at which drug is broken down. This can increase the likelihood of a person experiencing negative side effects sometimes associated with cephalexin.

Antibiotics to Avoid when Drinking

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Though cephalexin may not be dangerous when mixed with alcohol, it is worth noting that there are antibiotics that should not be used with alcohol consumption. These include metronidazole, tinidazole, furazolidone, griseofulvin and quinacrine. These can cause heart issues and breathing difficulties when combined with alcohol.

Possible Effects

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Though most people can consume alcohol while taking cephalexin, in some people there may be side effects. These include flushing, nausea, vomiting and abdominal cramps. Some more serious effects may be convulsions, severe headaches and rapid heart rate. According to the Mayo Clinic's James M. Steckleberg, M.D, these issues can occur when taking cephalexin alone or when drinking alcohol. When you combine the two, the risk and intensity of these negative effects may increase.

Alcohol and Recovery from Illnesses

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If someone is taking cephalexin, it is because she has an infection. Alcohol consumption can reduce an individual's energy and delay how quickly she recovers from the illness. Therefore, even if she is able to combine alcohol and cephalexin without any negative effects, it is best that she avoid alcohol until her health improves.


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If an individual is a chronic alcohol abuser or binge drinker, he may have liver changes. The liver may metabolize drugs differently due to this. In this case, he may need a higher dose of cephalexin to achieve the same treatment result as someone who does not abuse alcohol. It is also important to remember that some cold medications contain alcohol. Check the label and avoid these products if you are worried about interactions with cephalexin.