What are Antibiotics?

Antibiotics are medicines produced from microorganisms, which are used in the treatment of bacterial infections like pneumonia, bacterial meningitis and urinary tract infections.

They belong to a group of antimicrobial agents and mainly act either by killing the bacteria or by inhibiting their growth. Antibiotics are classified based on their mode of action, structure and activity.

Antibiotics and Dairy Products

Commonly known antibiotics are:

Antibiotics are life-saving drugs that are to be used in a proper manner to treat bacterial infections and to prevent severe complications of the disease. Prolonged use or sometimes misuse of antibiotics may cause drug resistance to the individual. However, there are some significant risks with the intake of antibiotics when it interacts with dairy products leading to serious side effects.

How do Dairy Products Interact with Antibiotics?

  • Dairy products like milk and cheese may interact with antibiotics.This interaction of the antibiotic drug with food may greatly influence the effectiveness of the drug and can cause adverse side effects. Common food-drug interaction involves the interaction of milk with tetracycline antibiotics like oxytetracycline and chlortetracycline, as the calcium ion from milk may form metal chelates (complexes) with the drug and will make it poorly absorbable in the gastrointestinal tract. These complex formations may lead to the reduced absorption of the drug and result in discoloration or yellowish stains in the teeth. Antibiotics are excreted in breast milk and this is why the use of tetracyclines should be avoided during pregnancy as it may lead to fluorescence discoloration of fetus teeth and may also affect the tooth enamel. The effects of these interactions may turn out to be severe leading to permanent staining of the teeth usually when they are consumed together by children without any time intervals. Fluoroquinolone antibiotics like Ciprofloxacin. also interact with milk and dairy products resulting in the reduced bioavailability of the drug.
Drug Interactions Leads to Teeth Staining

How to Prevent the Interaction of Dairy Products with Antibiotics?

  • Concomitant intake of milk with antibiotics should be avoided. Allow at least three-hour time interval between the intake of dairy products and antibiotics to prevent the interaction.
  • Doctors, pharmacists and other health care professionals must educate the patient with sufficient information about the interaction of antibiotics with milk.
  • Drug interactions with milk or other dairy products must be specified in the medication leaflet properly.
  • Consult a doctor before taking any antibiotics during pregnancy, as these drugs may get excreted through milk and may stain the infant’s teeth.
  • You can take probiotics like yogurt instead of dairy products like milk and cheese to avoid interactions with antibiotics.
Prevent the Interaction of Dairy Products with Antibiotics


  1. Antibiotics - (https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/antibiotics.html)
  2. Antibiotics: Misuse puts you and others at risk - (http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/in-depth/antibiotics/art-20045720)
  3. Antibiotics: drug and food interactions - (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19908637)
  4. Interference of dairy products with the absorption of ciprofloxacin. - (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1934862)
  5. Interactions with the absorption of tetracyclines. - (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/946598)
  6. Antibiotic Drugs - (http://www.antibiotics-info.org/tetracycline.html)

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