Antibiotics Use Caution

Use antibiotics with care! Some common and not-so-common antibiotic side effects you need to know

While it’s sometimes necessary to be treated with antibiotics, using them is not something that should be done habitually. While it’s true that antibiotics can save your life when you have a serious infection, you should use them judiciously. When your doctor gives you a prescription for an antibiotic, be sure to discuss the potential for antibiotic side effects. Some are merely uncomfortable, while others can be quite serious and even life-threatening. Here we take a look at the common and not-so-common antibiotic side effects that you need to know.

Diarrhea, stomach upset and muscle pains are among the most common side effects and more or less come with the territory. This is why your doctor or pharmacist may instruct you to take the medication after a meal or with a glass of milk. Unfortunately, both types of bacteria (bad and good) are affected by antibiotics. The antibiotic targets all bacteria. This is why many women develop vaginal yeast infections following a round of antibiotic use. Normally, the vagina is populated with beneficial bacteria in a balance that offsets bad bacteria, such as candida albicans, which is a fungal infection. With the good bacteria destroyed, the candida quickly takes over.

These common antibiotic side effects are usually not significant threats to your health. If diarrhea is severe, notify your doctor immediately, as potassium is lost which can pose a serious threat if unchecked. Sports drinks can be helpful in restoring a proper electrolyte balance.

Antibiotics flush the bacteria throughout your system, which explains the feelings of weakness and fatigue you may experience.

Now let’s take a look at some of the less common, but more serious antibiotic side effects. You’ll want to query your doctor on the known serious side effects of the particular antibiotic you have been prescribed, as they vary by specific antibiotics. Certain antibiotics can threaten the function of the liver, kidneys and even your bone marrow! Some of the less common antibiotic side effects may cause the formation of kidney stones in some people – certainly nothing to fool around with! While rare, cases of deafness are one antibiotic side effect associated with the use of Erthryomycin.

Several commonly prescribed antibiotics are known to have caused cases of inflammation of the large intestine, a type of colitis. This antibiotic side effect tends to develop more commonly in older patients than the young.

Allergic reactions are another of the possible antibiotic side effects, ranging from rashes to severe and potentially life threatening reactions, producing selling in the throat and mouth and an inability to breathe.

If you are pregnant, or breastfeeding, be sure you advise your doctor or emergency care provider before taking any antibiotic. Also be sure that your health care provider and pharmacist are aware of every other medication, supplement or herbs you are currently taking, including OTC preparations, as there may be contraindications with the antibiotic you’ve been prescribed.

Clearly, antibiotics can have detrimental effects. Discuss their use carefully with your physician. Try to limit use to situations for which there is no other alternative.