Sorry, we have no data available. Please contact your doctor or pharmacist.

Ethyl Alcohol/Selected Cephalosporins Interactions

This information is generalized and not intended as specific medical advice. Consult your healthcare professional before taking or discontinuing any drug or commencing any course of treatment.

Medical warning:

Serious. These medicines may interact and cause very harmful effects. Contact your healthcare professional (e.g. doctor or pharmacist) for more information.

How the interaction occurs:

The structure of some cephalosporins resemble disulfiram, a medicine used to make alcoholics intolerant to alcohol. Your body may not be able to properly break down alcohol. Many medicines (prescription and nonprescription), mouthwashes, and aftershaves contain alcohol. Even a small amount of alcohol (e.g. 15 ml or one tablespoon) can trigger the effects.

What might happen:

Ingesting alcohol during or for a few days after taking your antibiotic may result in throbbing in the head and neck, irregular heart beat, rapid heartbeat, low blood pressure, sweating, nausea, and vomiting. This reaction may last from 30 to 60 minutes to several hours, depending on the amount of alcohol consumed.

What you should do about this interaction:

If possible, avoid the use of medicines that contain alcohol when using your antibiotic and for several days after finishing it. Use of topical products such as creams or lotions that contain alcohol may also cause this reaction. The amount of alcohol required to cause this interaction varies with individuals.If you are using your antibiotic with a product that contains alcohol or if you notice signs or symptoms of this interaction, contact your healthcare professional (e.g. doctor or pharmacist). Your doctor may want to make changes to your medicines.Your healthcare professionals may already be aware of this interaction and may be monitoring you for it. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicine before checking with them first.

  • 1.Elenbaas RM, Ryan JL, Robinson WA, Singsank MJ, Harvey MJ, Klaassen CD. On the disulfiram-like activity of moxalactam. Clin Pharmacol Ther 1982 Sep; 32(3):347-55.
  • 2.Portier H, Chalopin JM, Freysz M, Tanter Y. Interaction between cephalosporins and alcohol. Lancet 1980 Aug 2;2(8188):263.
  • 3.Drummer S, Hauser WE Jr, Remington JS. Antabuse-like effect of beta-lactam antibiotics. N Engl J Med 1980 Dec 11;303(24):1417-8.
  • 4.Rotoli B, De Rosa G, Selleri C, Luciano L. Alcohol and cephamandole. Haematologica 1985 Jul-Aug;70(4):372-3.
  • 5.Foster TS, Raehl CL, Wilson HD. Disulfiram-like reaction associated with a parenteral cephalosporin. Am J Hosp Pharm 1980 Jun;37(6):858-9.
  • 6.Reeves DS, Davies AJ. Antabuse effect with cephalosporins. Lancet 1980 Sep 6;2(8193):540.
  • 7.McMahon FG. Disulfiram-like reaction to a cephalosporin. JAMA 1980 Jun 20; 243(23):2397.
  • 8.Norrby SR. Adverse reactions and interactions with newer cephalosporin and cephamycin antibiotics. Med Toxicol 1986 Jan-Feb;1(1):32-46.
  • 9.Neu HC, Prince AS. Interaction between moxalactam and alcohol. Lancet 1980 Jun 28;1(8183):1422.
  • 10.Brown KR, Guglielmo BJ, Pons VG, Jacobs RA. Theophylline elixir, moxalactam, and a disulfiram reaction. Ann Intern Med 1982 Oct; 97(4):621-2.
  • 11.Umeda S, Arai T. Disulfiram-like reaction to moxalactam after celiac plexus alcohol block. Anesth Analg 1985 Mar;64(3):377.
  • 12.Fromtling RA, Gadebusch HH. Ethanol-cephalosporin antibiotic interactions: an animal model for the detection of disulfiram (Antabuse)-like effects. Methods Find Exp Clin Pharmacol 1983 Nov; 5(9):595-600.
  • 13.McMahon FG, Noveck RJ. Lack of disulfiram--like reactions with ceftizoxime. J Antimicrob Chemother 1982 Nov;10 Suppl C:129-33.
  • 14.Buening MK, Wold JS. Ethanol-moxalactam interactions in vivo. Rev Infect Dis 1982 Nov-Dec;4 Suppl:S555-63.
  • 15.Buening MK, Wold JS, Israel KS, Krammer RB. Disulfiram-like reaction to beta-lactams. JAMA 1981 May 22-29;245(20):2027.
  • 16.Marcon G, Spolaor A, Scevola M, Zolli M, Carlassara GB. Disulfiram-like effect of cefonicid: first observation. Recenti Prog Med 1990 Jan; 81(1):47-8.
  • 17.USFood and Drug Administration (FDA). Docetaxel: Drug Safety Communication - May Cause Symptoms of Alcohol Intoxication. available at: MedicalProducts/ucm402106.htm June 20, 2014.

Selected from data included with permission and copyrighted by First Databank, Inc. This copyrighted material has been downloaded from a licensed data provider and is not for distribution, except as may be authorized by the applicable terms of use.

CONDITIONS OF USE: The information in this database is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of healthcare professionals. The information is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, drug interactions or adverse effects, nor should it be construed to indicate that use of a particular drug is safe, appropriate or effective for you or anyone else. A healthcare professional should be consulted before taking any drug, changing any diet or commencing or discontinuing any course of treatment.