Young woman resting her head on table while wondering whether antibiotics make you tired

Do Antibiotics Make You Tired? Antibiotic Insights

Medically reviewed on April 4, 2024 by Rosanna Sutherby, PharmD. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

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Antibiotics are frequently used to treat a variety of bacterial infections. [1] They work by limiting how much certain strains of bacteria can grow and propagate in your body. So, you may be prescribed antibiotics for mild infections, like UTIs, and more severe or risky ones, like STIs. [2]

Generally speaking, people taking antibiotics may feel symptoms like dizziness or lightheadedness. But do antibiotics make you feel tired?

Put simply, no—fatigue is not normally considered a side effect of antibiotics. [2] If you’re feeling tired on antibiotics, knowing the common antibiotic side effects and alternative explanations for your fatigue can help you decide whether to seek treatment from a healthcare provider.

Why Do I Feel Tired After Taking Antibiotics?

If you’re wondering, “Can antibiotics cause tiredness,” the short answer is no.

Most antibiotics do not directly cause tiredness, fatigue, or sleepiness. Only one type of antibiotic, vancomycin, is known to contribute to fatigue. [3] Vancomycin is typically used as an alternative to penicillin; however, only around 1 in 20 people will observe fatigue when taking it. [3,4]

More often than not, fatigue while taking antibiotics is caused by factors unrelated to the medication itself. For instance [3]:

  • The infection your antibiotics were prescribed to treat is making you tired
  • Your immune system is working hard to bring your infection under control
  • Your sleep has been disturbed or diminished due to your being sick

What Are Some Common Antibiotics Side Effects?

In the majority of cases, side effects caused by antibiotics are mild. While some people experience no side effects at all, others may notice symptoms like [3]:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Rash

Diarrhea or general digestive upset is considered the most prevalent side effect of antibiotics. [3] However, this typically dissipates after you’ve completed your course.

If your digestive issues persist after you’ve finished your prescription, it’s important to contact a healthcare provider. They can help you rule out potential complications caused by antibiotic use, like a C. diff infection. [3]

Some people may develop other infections as a result of antibiotic use, like a yeast infection. These can occur due to the disruption and rebalancing of your body’s bacterial ecosystem. [5]

When to Reach Out to a Healthcare Provider

In rarer cases, antibiotic use may trigger allergic reactions that can range from mild to severe. Common symptoms of an allergic reaction to antibiotics include [3, 6]:

  • Itchy skin
  • Rash (like hives or urticaria)
  • Blistered skin
  • Facial swelling
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Trouble breathing (due to constriction of the airways)

If you experience any of these symptoms, reach out to a healthcare provider as soon as possible. While some allergic reactions to antibiotics can be treated with antihistamines, others may require more aggressive treatment to reduce your risk of anaphylaxis (a serious and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction). [6]

The two types of antibiotic medication that most frequently trigger an allergic reaction include:

  • Penicillin, which is frequently prescribed for skin, throat, dental, ear, respiratory tract infections, and urinary tract infections. [7]
  • Cephalosporins, which is often used to treat bacterial infections like strep throat, pneumonia, sinus, ear, gonorrhea, UTIs, and other types of infections. [8]

Guidelines for Properly Using Antibiotics

Using antibiotics properly may not necessarily reduce your chances of side effects, but it can help ensure your medicine is maximally effective. Additionally, proper use can help curb your likelihood of needing more antibiotics later, thereby reducing your risk of antibiotic resistance.

To that end, when taking antibiotics, be sure to [9]:

  • Always follow your healthcare provider’s instructions regarding the dosage, timing, and duration of the antibiotic course prescribed.
  • Never take another person’s prescribed antibiotic treatment. This can lead to side effects or worsen your existing infection.
  • Avoid mixing antibiotics with alcohol. While on antibiotics, you may wonder, "Can you drink alcohol?" It's advisable to avoid alcohol as you complete antibiotic treatment. Some antibiotics, when taken with alcohol, can also lead to unpleasant reactions. [10]
  • Consult your healthcare provider if you’re unsure about the question, "Can you take probiotics with antibiotics?" In most cases, probiotics alongside antibiotics can be beneficial. However, it's important to incorporate probiotics as recommended by your healthcare provider. [11, 12]
  • Throw away whatever you don’t use if you have extra medicine after completing your full course.

Finally, don’t take antibiotics if it’s not medically necessary. If you’re not sure whether it’s a good idea to take antibiotics, consult with a healthcare provider to arrive at a treatment option that can protect your long-term health.

How to Manage Fatigue During an Infection

With certain types of infections, simply keeping up with your basic health needs can help offset fatigue. This could include [10]:

  • Stepping up your fluid intake
  • Taking more time to sleep, rest, and recover
  • Getting light or moderate amounts of daily exercise
  • Managing your daily and chronic stress levels

If you’re still feeling tired after completing your round of prescribed antibiotic treatment, it’s a wise idea to reach out to a healthcare provider or a telehealth professional. They can help you discern whether something else is making you feel tired and provide guidance for replenishing your energy levels.

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Can You Take Probiotics With Antibiotics?

Can You Drink Alcohol on Antibiotics? Potential Risks

Doxycycline and Alcohol: Safety Guidelines

  1. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (n.d.). Antibiotics. MedlinePlus. Medical Citation URL. Accessed March 13, 2024.
  2. professional, C. C. medical. (n.d.). Bacterial infection: Causes, symptoms, treatment & prevention. Cleveland Clinic. Medical Citation URL. Accessed March 13, 2024.
  3. professional, C. C. medical. (n.d.-a). Antibiotics. Cleveland Clinic. Medical Citation URL. Accessed March 13, 2024.
  4. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2023, May 1). Vancomycin (intravenous route) description and brand names. Mayo Clinic. Medical Citation URL. Accessed March 13, 2024.
  5. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2023a, January 11). Yeast infection (vaginal). Mayo Clinic. Medical Citation URL. Accessed March 13, 2024.
  6. NHS. (n.d.). NHS choices. Medical Citation URL. Accessed March 13, 2024.
  7. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (n.d.) Penicillin V Potassium. MedlinePlus. Medical Citation URL. Accessed March 25, 2024.
  8. Bui, T. (2023, March 24). Cephalosporins. StatPearls [Internet]. Medical Citation URL. Accessed March 13, 2024.
  9. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, October 6). Antibiotic do’s & don’ts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Medical Citation URL. Accessed March 13, 2024.
  10. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (n.d.). Alcohol-medication interactions: potentially dangerous mixes. Medical Citation URL. Accessed March 25, 2024.
  11. Neut C, Mahieux S, Dubreuil LJ. Antibiotic susceptibility of probiotic strains: Is it reasonable to combine probiotics with antibiotics?. Med Mal Infect. 2017;47(7):477-483. doi:10.1016/j.medmal.2017.07.00. Medical Citation URL. Accessed March 25, 2024.
  12. Éliás, A.J., Barna, V., Patoni, C. et al. Probiotic supplementation during antibiotic treatment is unjustified in maintaining the gut microbiome diversity: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Med 21, 262 (2023). Medical Citation URL. Accessed March 25, 2024.

Rosanna Sutherby, PharmD holds a PharmD and is a retail pharmacist who has worked in the industry for roughly 20 years. Sutherby has extensive knowledge about medications, diseases, and conditions, and knows how to confidentially educate patients. Sutherby also creates content revolving around anything in the medical sphere with a focus on conditions and articles. Her published work has appeared in Managed Healthcare Executive, Formulary Watch, and PsychCentral, and spans a variety of topics, including cardiovascular health, immunology, sleep disorders, mental health, alcohol and opioid use disorders, vaccine education, and medication use and safety.
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