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Is it Safe to Mix Ciprofloxacin and Alcohol?

Headache is a shared side effect of the use of both ciprofloxacin and alcohol, so instances of headache may increase with combined use.
Alcohol and antibiotics like Ciprofloaxacin have a similar effect on the body, so it's wise not to mix them.
Mixing alcohol and ciprofloxacin can decrease the body's ability to fight bacterial infections.
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  • Written By: R. O'Connell
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 22 October 2014
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Ciprofloxacin is an antibiotic used to prevent bacterial infections. It is used especially to treat infections that are resistant to other varieties of antibiotics and as a one-time treatment for gonorrhea. The side effects of ciprofloxacin include headache, dizziness and tiredness. Combined use of ciprofloxacin and alcohol are not known to cause any severe interactions, although it can reduce how effective the drug is at fighting the infection and is not recommended.

Some antibiotics can have serious alcohol interactions. Although using alcohol and antibiotics together does not necessarily decrease the effectiveness of the antibiotic, combination use can cause serious and undesirable side effects. Alcohol and antibiotics act similarly: both travel through the bloodstream, effect a change upon the body and are flushed from the body, so the body can struggle to process both substances at once. Severe side effects are more common in some antibiotics than others, and it is always important to read all warnings and learn about various drug interactions with alcohol.

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Ciprofloxacin is a commonly prescribed antibiotic. As of early 2011, the combined use of ciprofloxacin and alcohol had not caused any documented severe side effects. Therefore, although this combination is not necessarily recommended by most doctors, serious physical repercussions are unlikely. That said, there is striking similarity between the side effects of ciprofloxacin and the side effects of alcohol, such as headaches, dizziness and fatigue. The combined use of these two substances greatly increases the likelihood of these adverse effects, which can be unpleasant.

The medical recommendation is that one should avoid combining ciprofloxican and alcohol, because this simple decision can increase the body's ability to defeat a bacterial infection. It generally is not a good idea for someone to drink while his or her body is fighting an infection. Alcohol consumption can suppress the body's immune system; particularly, excessive use of alcohol decreases the efficiency of the body's white cells, which means it will take longer to defeat an infection.

Additionally, as with any prescription drug, ciprofloxacin's effectiveness depends largely upon taking the antibiotic exactly as prescribed. It is very important for a person to take antibiotics for the full course and to take them exactly as prescribed by his or her doctor or pharmacist. If the patient stops too early or takes antibiotics erratically, bacteria can respond unexpectedly or develop a resistance to the antibiotic. Using ciprofloxacin and alcohol simultaneously increases the risk of missing or forgetting a dose, which can mean extending the course of ciprofloxacin or even switching to a new type and course of antibiotic. It can be tempting for one to use ciprofloxacin and alcohol at the same time, because antibiotics can sometimes be a two- or three-week course, but the potential negative effects of such a combination are no casual matter.

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