You should completely avoid alcohol while taking the antibiotics metronidazole or tinidazole, and continue to avoid alcohol for 48 hours after your course has finished, as this combination can cause very unpleasant side effects, such as:
• feeling and being sick
• stomach pain
• hot flushes
It’s recommended that you don’t drink alcohol while taking other antibiotics. However, as long as you drink in moderation, alcohol is unlikely to interact significantly with your medication.
Check with your doctor or pharmacist when you are given your prescription if you are unsure about whether or not you can drink alcohol while you are taking the antibiotics that have been prescribed. You can also phone NHS 111 for advice.
Antibiotics are used to treat different types of infections. A short or long course may be given depending on your infection. As a general rule, you should not have any leftover antibiotics if you complete the course as prescribed. However, if you do and you have completed the course as instructed by your doctor, then you should discard the remainder. You can take the unwanted antibiotics to a pharmacy to be disposed of safely.
You should only use antibiotics when your doctor prescribes them. If your infection keeps coming back, it may be a sign that the antibiotics are not working. You should always see your doctor if your symptoms don’t improve, get worse or come back after treatment. Your doctor may need to give you a different antibiotic and advice on measures to help prevent the infection from coming back.
Antibiotics only treat bacterial conditions. If your condition is viral, antibiotics won’t work.
If taken correctly, antibiotics will usually treat:
• Persisting urinary tract infections (cystitis)
• Strep throat
• Bacterial skin infections
Antibiotics will not treat:
• Most coughs
• Most sore throats
A condition has to be diagnosed as bacterial for antibiotics to be effective. If your doctor hasn’t prescribed them, it’s likely the infection is viral and antibiotics will not help.
There has been a lot of research into how long antibiotic courses should be, to determine the shortest possible length of course needed to completely kill all bacteria. If you are being treated for an infection, the kind of antibiotics your doctor prescribes and the length of the course should be based on the best evidence.
Feeling better, or an improvement in symptoms, does not always mean that the infection has completely gone. Your doctor has had years of training and has access to the latest evidence – so always follow their advice.