What Is Wrong With Drinking Caffeine While Taking Antibiotics?

Coffee and antibiotics could make you extra jittery.
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Certain medications may not mix well with other substances, like caffeine. In fact, mixing coffee and antibiotics can lead to side effects or influence how well your medicine works.

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So, can you drink coffee with antibiotics? Here's everything you need to know about combining caffeine and antibiotics.

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If your doctor prescribes antibiotics, your morning cup of coffee or energy drink could influence its effectiveness. In some cases, it can increase the potency; in others, it may decrease the potency. Or it may not affect the antibiotic at all. In other cases, the antibiotic may increase the side effects of the caffeine.

Antibiotics Affecting Caffeine

Antibiotics are a type of medicine used to treat bacterial infections, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM). But some of these medications can influence how caffeine affects your body.

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For instance, certain antibiotics can actually stop your body from efficiently breaking down caffeine, which may enhance the potency of caffeine's effects.

According to the NLM, mixing caffeine and antibiotics may lead to symptoms like jitters, racing heart and trouble sleeping.

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When in doubt, talk to your doctor. They'll let you know if you can drink coffee while taking antibiotics, if it would be better reduce your caffeine intake or if you should take your meds at a different time than your daily dose of caffeine.

Most Common Antibiotics

If you're considering taking coffee and antibiotics, here are some meds that can interact with the stimulant (though this list is by no means exhaustive):

1. Fluoroquinolones

Fluoroquinolones are antibiotics used to treat a variety of bacterial infections, and they're best taken without caffeine because they can intensify caffeine's side effects, per the National Health Service.

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This includes different types of fluoroquinolones like ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin and gemifloxacin.

Warning

Taking ciprofloxacin puts you at risk for tendon problems and potentially lasting nerve damage, per the NLM. Only take it if your doctor prescribes it and follow their instructions to the letter — including avoiding caffeine — to minimize your chance of side effects.

3. Tetracyclines

Tetracyclines are a class of antibiotics used to treat different infections, including pneumonia, urinary tract infections and acne, according to the NLM. Common tetracycline antibiotics include doxycycline, minocycline and demeclocycline.

Though the research is sparse, an older June 2008 study in the ​Tropical Journal of Pharmaceutical Research​ found that caffeine may decrease the antibacterial effect of tetracycline.

However, newer research is needed to better establish if caffeine and tetracycline interact.

As always, it's safest to ask your doctor about whether you can take doxycycline and coffee, for instance. They can tell you if it's best to skip caffeine until your prescription is over, or if it's OK to have your daily cup of coffee.

Can You Drink Coffee While Taking Nitrofurantoin?

Nitrofurantoin is a type of antibiotic used to treat urinary tract infections, according to the NLM.

If you're wondering whether you can drink coffee while taking nitrofurantoin, there's no evidence to suggest that the antibiotic interacts poorly with caffeine. That said, talk to your doctor about whether you can drink coffee while you're taking any medication to make sure it's safe.

Caffeine Affecting Antibiotics

If you drink a lot of coffee, tea, energy drinks or take caffeine pills, talk to your doctor about how your intake can affect your antibiotics' effectiveness.

That's because caffeine can potentially mess with the way your medication works.

Indeed, a July 2017 study in ​Acta Biochimica Polonica​ found that caffeine can affect antibiotic potency. In some cases, caffeine may increase the potency of antibiotics, which could potentially cause harmful side effects.

The study authors recommend avoiding large doses of caffeine — like the amount found in energy drinks — while taking antibiotics to minimize your risk for health problems.

Your best bet? If you're prescribed antibiotics, talk to your doctor about whether or not you should temporarily limit or quit caffeine to make sure you're taking your meds safely.

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