Can you Mix Alcohol and Ciprofloxacin (Cipro)?

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Ciprofloxacin (also known as cipro) is a broad spectrum antibiotic. It is used throughout the world to treat many different types of bacterial infections. Often it will require multiple doses over a period of time. A frequent question of many cipro users is “Is it safe to drink alcohol while taking cipro?”

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What Is Cipro & How Is It Used?

Cipro (1) is a broad spectrum antibiotic. This means that it has a wide variety of applications for treating infection. It belongs to a family of antibiotics called fluoroquinolones. This type of antibiotic targets and kills harmful bacteria that may be causing an infection. Cipro, like most antibiotics, is available by prescription only and should only be taken while under the care of a medical professional. It commonly comes in the form of a tablet, eye or ear drops, or a liquid to be ingested orally or injected.

Common Side Effects of Cipro Use

Antibiotics are generally considered safe when used as prescribed. The highest risk of concern for doctors is the body developing a dependence on these antibiotics to fight infection. Cipro is considered safe for use by anyone over the age of 1. Though it is considered safe, there are some common side effects (2) from its use. These include:

  • Feeling sick (nausea).
  • Diarrhea.
  • Redness or discomfort in the eye.
  • Bad taste in the mouth.
  • White specks on the surface of your eye.

These common side effects are not considered to be life threatening. Though it is rare, serious side effects may develop. These typically impact less than 1 out of every 100 people who take Cipro. These side effects include:

  • Muscle weakness, pain or swelling in your joints or tendons.
  • Pain or abnormal sensations (such as pins and needles that do not go away, tingling, tickling, numbness or burning).
  • Ringing in your ears (tinnitus), loss of taste, seeing double, or have any other changes in your sight, smell, taste or hearing.
  • Diarrhea (perhaps with muscle cramps) that contains blood or mucus.
  • A faster or irregular heartbeat, or heartbeats that suddenly become more noticeable.
  • Sudden breathlessness, especially when you’re lying down.
  • Swollen ankles, feet or stomach.

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Is It Safe to Drink Alcohol While Taking Cipro?

Generally, alcohol consumption is considered safe (3) when taking cipro. Studies have shown that it will not interfere with the effectiveness of the antibiotic. The most common warning when combining alcohol and cipro is the potential for increased side effects. Consumption of alcohol can occasionally cause nausea which can be compounded with the nausea that also may come as the result of taking cipro. Limiting alcohol consumption will typically lessen these side effects.

Possible Side Effects of Consuming Alcohol on Cipro

Some of the side effects from taking cipro are also the side effects that can come as the result of excess alcohol consumption. When combined the effects can compound causing the user to feel an increase in the severity of these symptoms. The side effects from mixing cipro and alcohol can include:

  • Increased nausea.
  • Increased diarrhea.
  • Redness or flushing of the face.

What Drinks Should Be Avoided When Taking Cipro?

Symptoms related to alcohol consumption will generally worsen as more alcohol enters the bloodstream. The amount of alcohol in the bloodstream is impacted by a multitude of factors including the alcohol percentage of each drink. When drinks with higher alcohol content are consumed, alcohol cannot be filtered out fast enough causing more to remain in the bloodstream. As this rate increases, so does the potential for negative side effects. Avoiding drinks with higher alcohol content or limiting the number of drinks should reduce the potential for negative symptoms.

Should Alcohol Be Avoided With All Antibiotics?

With a few exceptions, mild alcohol consumption is considered safe (4) when taking antibiotics. Most warnings are centered around the potential for increased side effects. Occasionally, alcohol consumption may be tied to increased blood pressure when taking antibiotics. It is important to consult the prescribing medical professional for any warnings related to alcohol.

How Long Should You Wait After Taking Cipro to Consume Alcohol?

Typically, mild alcohol consumption is safe while taking antibiotics. However, negative side effects may result including nausea and diarrhea. If these symptoms occur, stopping alcohol consumption while taking antibiotics may be required. Typically a period of 24 hours after your last dose is considered a safe amount of time to resume alcohol consumption.

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  1. https://www.nhs.uk/medicines/ciprofloxacin/about-ciprofloxacin/
  2. https://www.nhs.uk/medicines/ciprofloxacin/side-effects-of-ciprofloxacin/
  3. https://www.nhs.uk/medicines/ciprofloxacin/common-questions-about-ciprofloxacin/#:~:text=Can%20I%20drink%20alcohol%20while,some%20dairy%2Dfree%20milks).
  4. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/expert-answers/antibiotics-and-alcohol/faq-20057946#:~:text=Although%20modest%20alcohol%20use%20doesn,antibiotics%20and%20are%20feeling%20better

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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave

L.M.H.C.

Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

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Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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