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Is It Safe to Combine Cefuroxime and Alcohol?

Mary McMahon
Updated: Jun 04, 2024

There are no specific warnings against the use of cefuroxime and alcohol, but in some patients the combination may be ill-advised. Patients with a history of high alcohol consumption may want to discuss this when a care provider recommends cefuroxime therapy. The combination can also be a concern in cases where a patient has underlying liver or kidney problems, which may necessitate a dosage adjustment and some lifestyle changes to reduce risks.

This drug is an antibiotic in the cephalosporin family, used to treat bacterial infections. People with existing liver and kidney disease can be at risk of complications, especially if they combine cefuroxime with alcohol. The alcohol can overload their livers in combination with the medication and may interfere with metabolism, which could lead to abnormal levels of the drug in the bloodstream. It might become less effective, or could rise in concentration and increase the risk of side effects.

Some patients experience extreme nausea, vomiting, and intestinal cramping when they combine cefuroxime and alcohol. This tends to be more common when people have a history of alcoholism or heavy drinking. They may need to temporarily stop drinking or cut down on consumption while taking the antibiotic to decrease the chance of experiencing these unpleasant side effects. People with concerns about alcohol consumption may want to bring them up to discuss treatment options.

In people who are healthy, with no history of heavy alcohol consumption, there are usually no specific risks with cefuroxime and alcohol. Patients who notice symptoms like nausea, dizziness, or disorientation after combining the two can discuss this with a medical professional. They may be advised to avoid alcohol for the duration of therapy to limit the chance of future interactions. It’s also possible that these side effects could be caused by the medication alone, in which case they may continue after the patient stops drinking, indicating that it may be necessary to change to a different antibiotic.

Medical professionals may recommend against combining cefuroxime and alcohol from the very start with the goal of preventing complications. This may be based on experience with prior patients or issues in a patient’s history that might increase the chance of a bad reaction. People who are not sure about whether the combination is safe can ask for advice, and may receive specific information on how many drinks are safe and whether they should avoid hard alcohol while taking the antibiotic.

How does Cefuroxime Work? 

Cefuroxime comes in a tablet, or liquid form under the name Ceftin and doctors prescribe it to fight bacterial infections. Doctors prescribe cefuroxime to patients with a wide range of infections, including:

Doctors may prescribe cefuroxime for other medical issues in addition to those above, but these are the most common. 

Cefuroxime is taken by mouth and interferes with the bacteria walls. Once this happens, the bacteria cell walls break and die. The amount needed differs from patient to patient, depending on the infection they are battling. 

The cefuroxime tablet can be taken with or without food. However, the liquid form must be taken with food. It is crucial to take medicine exactly as your doctor has prescribed it to avoid complications. Do not crush the tablets. If you plan on drinking alcohol while on cefuroxime, food may be beneficial to prevent sickness. 

After Taking Cefuroxime, When is It Safe to Drink Alcohol Again? 

As previously stated, there are no warnings against drinking alcohol with cefuroxime, though it can increase side effects or harm those at risk. However, if you have been advised to avoid alcohol while taking cefuroxime, it is recommended to wait 72 hours after your last dose of any antibiotic before you can drink alcohol. 

The alcohol won’t prevent the cefuroxime from working, but it could prevent your infection from healing in other ways. Although there are no direct risks of combining cefuroxime with alcohol, alcohol itself naturally weakens the immune system. So, suppose you are battling a bacterial infection. In that case, it may be in your best interest to avoid alcohol altogether until you have finished your medicine and are no longer experiencing symptoms. 

Avoiding alcohol, even after finishing your medication, ensures your immune system can fully recover. Alcohol not only weakens your immune system but could prevent you from getting enough sleep, which also weakens the immune system. 

I’m Taking Cefuroxime and Might Drink Later. How Do I Know if I’m at Risk? 

The best way to know if you are at risk and should avoid taking alcohol with cefuroxime is to first talk to your doctor. Those battling kidney or liver disease and/or alcoholism should already have received a note from their doctor that taking the two together may not be safe or recommended. However, there are other precautions people should take just in case they may be at risk of increased side effects or complications. 

Before taking the medicine, you should tell your doctor about any other supplements, drugs, alcohol, or medicine that you regularly intake. They will be able to tell you if you should stop taking any of those substances while on this antibiotic. Additionally, your pharmacist can provide you with the ingredients so that you can notify your doctor if you are allergic to any of the ingredients in cefuroxime. 

Understanding any additional risk factors when taking cefuroxime is crucial for those who may need further precautions when taking the antibiotic. This is especially the case if you know you may drink alcohol at one point while taking the drug. One or two drinks now and then may not harm your body at all, but consuming large amounts of alcohol is rarely safe.

I Drank Alcohol with Cefuroxime and am Experiencing Side Effects. When Should I Talk to My Doctor? 

Side effects such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are normal while on cefuroxime. These side effects are also normal after drinking too much alcohol. However, you should talk to your doctor if symptoms persist and are severe. If you begin experiencing any of the following symptoms, you should speak with your doctor immediately. 

  • Rash
  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Trouble breathing or swallowing
  • Wheezing
  • Swelling in the face, mouth, or eyes
  • Bloody stools
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or stomach cramps up to two months after finishing treatment

If you realize you are experiencing symptoms outside of these side effects, still talk to your doctor in case they could be rare and become deadly. 

When taking any medicine, it is necessary to consider the implications of taking it with alcohol. Talking to your doctor honestly about your habits is the only way to ensure you are taking cefuroxime correctly.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By ZipLine — On Sep 30, 2012

@fify-- It is a good idea to leave plenty of time between taking antibiotics and alcohol. But remember, the antibiotics is always in your bloodstream, so that won't prevent a contradiction with alcohol if it's going to happen.

By fify — On Sep 30, 2012

I wouldn't mix antibiotics with hard liquor, just because it's too hard on the liver. But it's okay to have a beer or two right?

I'm on cefuroxime for tonsilitis and I'm invited for a birthday party tomorrow night. I forgot to ask my doctor if I can drink while I'm on cefuroxime.

What should I do? Should I just try having half of a beer, wait for a while and if there is no side effects, have the rest? Would it help if I took the antibiotics early in the morning so that there would be a lot of time between the drug and the alcohol?

By ddljohn — On Sep 29, 2012

I know that it is safer to combine some antibiotics with alcohol than others and I guess cefuroxime is one of the safer ones. But I never take alcohol when I'm on cefuroxime simply because the antibiotic always gives me nausea.

It's just a side effect that I get from it. I talked to my doctor about it and he said that he could give me a different antibiotic, but for the type of infection I'm dealing with, cefuroxime is best. So I just have to deal with the nausea during my treatment.

I can't even imagine drinking alcohol when I'm nauseated. My stomach just wouldn't handle it, I think I would throw up.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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