NL-034 - Side effects of antibiotics
Antibiotics can save lives from some deadly infections but these drugs are not effective against all kinds of infections. This is the entire premise of why we should be extra careful about taking antibiotics at the first sign of cold or flu. Antibiotics are only good at treating bacterial infections such as urinary tract infection, skin infection, strep throat, sepsis and tuberculosis but taking antibiotics to treat viral infections such as common cold, flu or COVID 19 is not only useless, it can make you feel worse and promote multi-drug resistant infections.
Antibiotics do not discriminate between good and bad bacteria, killing both kinds with equal fervour. This disrupts the delicate balance in the gut microbiome and allows hostile micro-organisms to dominate. You need a healthy and a diverse healthy gut flora to build a resilient immune response, maintain healthy digestive system, supply essential nutrients and produce certain vitamins. That’s how overuse of antibiotics causes gut dysbiosis, poor immunity and an increased risk of fungal infections. While common side effects such as vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and other symptoms of digestive distress are quite well known, longer use of antibiotics causes a wide range of side effects such as delirium, dizziness, confusion, excessive fatigue and gastrointestinal bleeding.
In some cases, use of antibiotics can lead to life-threatening diarrhoea caused by the bacteria Clostridium difficile (C. diff). It is more commonly seen in hospitalized patients. It happens when antibiotics alter the normal flora in the colon, leading to the growth of disease-causing bacteria and inflammation and damage.
Studies show that early exposure to antibiotics may increase the risk of developing asthma, allergies, obesity and drug-resistant infections in children. In fact, babies born to mothers who received antibiotic treatment during pregnancy are at an increased risk of getting more infections.
Inappropriate and prolonged use of antibiotics makes the bacteria resistant, rendering the antibiotic less effective to treat the infection. Continuous antibiotic therapy enables bacteria to adapt, evolve and develop resistance to the drugs designed to kill them in the first place. Resistant strains, known as super bugs, are extremely difficult to treat and such infections may need longer recovery times and even require hospitalization.
Unfortunately, healthcare providers prescribing antibiotics even when not required is a very common trend. While the onus lies with the doctors to practice restraint and eliminate unnecessary use of antibiotics, added pressure from the patients, who believe taking antibiotics may help with immediate relief from their symptoms, is also compounding the problem. So, there is definitely an urgent need to change our outlook and get educated on the responsible use of antibiotics. If you are feeling sick, it is best to discuss with your healthcare professional if prescribing antibiotics is absolutely necessary.