Generally speaking, combining clindamycin and alcohol does not usually pose severe health risks. Physicians, however, still advise patients to avoid drinking alcohol when they are prescribed clindamycin, since the interaction between the two may worsen the side effects associated with either the alcohol or clindamycin. Mixing clindamycin and alcohol can also reduce the efficacy of the medication, making a patient’s illness or condition harder to treat. Drinking alcohol is advised against not only when taking clindamycin, but also with most medications.
Clindamycin is a type of medication labeled as an “antibiotic” and helps fight off and kill the bacteria that can cause infections usually in the respiratory and digestive system. It is also commonly prescribed to patients suffering from acne, malaria, and infection in the bone, but is usually combined with other drugs or chemicals. Clindamycin operates in the body by binding itself to the bacteria’s ribosome and preventing the proteins from multiplying. When the bacterial population is controlled, the body’s own immune system finishes the job by eliminating the bacteria altogether.
One of the reasons why clindamycin and alcohol should not be combined is that both are absorbed quickly by the digestive system and into bloodstream. Alcohol is considered a “downer” or a “depressant” that slows down the activity of any body part that absorbs it. This means that the body may take a longer time to absorb the clindamycin; there may even be cases when the medication is flushed out of the body without getting absorbed at all. In some cases, the alcohol, especially when drank in large amounts, would use up more enzymes to metabolize and flush it out of the system, leaving very little enzymes to work on the clindamycin. As a result, the medication may stay inside the system for a prolonged period, and can cause severe symptoms or even poisoning.
Another reason why combining clindamycin and alcohol is advised against is that both of them can exhibit similar symptoms that can include nausea, dizziness, vomiting, and an upset stomach. When both the medication and the alcohol are inside the body’s system, the severity of the symptoms can be twice as bad. In some cases, the liver can also suffer because the alcohol can trigger some enzymes to actually turn the clindamycin into poison. Alcohol is also known to weaken the body’s immune system, so even when the clindamycin does its job of inhibiting the growth of the bacteria, the immune system cannot function effectively in killing the bacteria. If one cannot avoid combining clindamycin and alcohol, he should only drink the latter in moderation.
When Is Clindamycin Prescribed?
As mentioned, clindamycin is an antibiotic. But it doesn’t work for colds, flu, and other viral infections, so you should only use it when your doctor prescribes it.
Clindamycin is for some types of bacterial infections, not most viral infections. Some of these infections include those of the lungs, blood, female reproductive organs, and other internal organs. Doctors will often prescribe clindamycin when the patient has an allergic reaction to penicillin, which is the more common antibiotic prescription for bacterial infections.
Clindamycin is classified as a lincomycin antibiotic. It aims to stop the growth of harmful bacteria in the body.
Mild Side Effects of Clindamycin
While the side effects of this antibiotic can worsen when combined with alcohol, the medication often causes side effects anyway. If you’ve been prescribed clindamycin, your doctor probably warned you about the following side effects. But just in case, below are symptoms to look out for when taking the medication.
Nausea and Vomiting
This side effect is the most increased when combined with alcohol, as drinking and antibiotics can make you nauseous, even causing you to vomit. But if you vomit on the medication alone, this is normal and not a serious cause for concern.
Many people experience a funny metallic taste or another gross flavor in their mouth shortly after taking the medication. This symptom usually occurs within the first two hours after taking the dose and should fade after about an hour. Many report brushing their teeth when the taste occurs can help eliminate the bad flavor.
People on clindamycin often report experiencing minor joint pain after a few days of taking the medication. However, this is not super common, typically occurring in people who already have joint or bone problems and in older patients.
Clindamycin can often cause dryness and discomfort in the mouth and throat. This issue is one of the more unpleasant side effects but is not uncommon. You may experience this throughout the day or just after the medication absorbs into your body.
Another annoying side effect, heartburn is not very serious. If you get heartburn shortly after taking the medication, this is extremely common, and you can take anti-acid medications to try and combat that discomfort.
Oral White Patches
People on the medication may notice small white patches in their mouth, similar to what strep throat looks like. This side effect can be alarming but is also not a cause for concern as many patients on the medication experience it.
Clindamycin can cause vaginal discomfort, like burning, itching, and swelling for women. It can also cause a thick, white vaginal discharge that the patient does not consider normal for their body. These are some of the expected side effects, especially if the bacterial infection is in the female reproductive organs.
Severe Side Effects of Clindamycin
Clindamycin comes with some uncomfortable and unpleasant side effects. The side effects listed above are no reason for alarm, as most patients experience one or more of them. However, clindamycin can cause severe side effects that are not normal.
Call your doctor immediately if you experience any of the side effects below.
If you notice new and unusual skin problems when you begin the medication, this can indicate an allergic reaction to the clindamycin. For example, if your skin peels, blisters, itches, or you develop hives or a rash, you should stop the medication and see your doctor.
If you have difficulty breathing and the sensation of not being able to swallow persists or gets worse, this may be a problem. While trouble swallowing can be common, it should not be painful or constant. If your voice becomes hoarse because of this, contact your doctor.
If you notice the whites of your eyes yellowing or your skin taking on a yellow hue, your liver and kidneys may be having a bad reaction to the medication. Stop your regimen and contact your doctor immediately.
Antibiotics should not cause urination problems. However, if you seem to urinate far less frequently or have trouble urinating, it may be due to the clindamycin and could be an adverse reaction relating to your kidneys or bladder.
If your face, throat, tongue, lips, eyes, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs begin to swell or become sore, you may be allergic to the medication and should call your doctor.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is clindamycin compatible with alcohol use?
It is not safe to consume alcohol when taking clindamycin. Alcohol and clindamycin may interact negatively, increasing the likelihood of headaches, nausea, and vomiting. Alcohol use may also interfere with your body's capacity to absorb the medication, reducing its effectiveness. Alcohol use should be avoided for at least 72 hours following the end of a clindamycin treatment.
Does clindamycin use during pregnancy carry any risks?
Clindamycin may be safely used during pregnancy, although this should only be done if the benefits outweigh the risks. Clindamycin is often considered safe during pregnancy, but discussing any potential risks with your doctor is crucial.
How long after taking clindamycin should I refrain from drinking alcohol?
It is advisable to abstain from drinking for at least 72 hours after stopping clindamycin treatment. By doing this, you'll lessen the likelihood of unpleasant side effects and give the medication enough time to exit your body completely.
Are ibuprofen and clindamycin compatible?
Since no adverse interactions have been observed, ibuprofen and clindamycin are considered safe to use in combination. However, as ibuprofen may increase the risk of stomach bleeding when used with several antibiotics, including clindamycin, it is essential to be aware of any potential interactions.
What negative consequences might clindamycin therapy have?
Clindamycin's side effects often include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain. Additionally, some people may get a skin rash, vertigo, headache, or decreased appetite as adverse effects.