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Antibiotics: Effect on Gut Health

Antibiotics: Side Effects & How to Avoid Overuse

Antibiotics are a prescribed to treat infections caused by bacteria.  Infections and IBD are fairly common.  In fact, people with IBS and other digestive issues also suffer from reoccurring infections.

You may not have stopped to think about it, but many of your symptoms could point to antibiotic related issues.   Antibiotics are powerful, not following the prescription, or stopping the medication before completed you risk antibiotics actually hurting you.  Overuse and misuse of antibiotics may lead to resistance, and side effects.

Taking Erythromycin, increases your risk of death from heart complication by 250%.  New England Journal of Medicine

Most people with IBD have taken a round of antibiotics to fight infections that mimic the symptoms of the disease.  These drugs that have the power to treat and kill deadly infections can also be directly related to health damage.  They can severely disable the immune system when there is misuse or the patient doesn’t have adequate nutrition and lifestyle during/after treatment.  Overuse of antibiotics is an increasing problem that even doctors who prescribe them are addressing and warning about.

Gut flora affected by antibiotics

 The problem with antibiotics that doctors warn about is how overuse causes antibiotic resistance and damage to your health.  Remember that antibiotics kill bacteria without target. The gut flora must maintain a healthy balance of good and bad bacteria.  After a lifetime of ingesting common antibiotics the balance in the microbiome is upset.  Some doctors go as far as claiming that A – bombs stand for antibiotics.  They are a “gut grenade” when not taken properly.
The link between leaky gut and antibiotics begins when the antibiotic comes in and clears the intestinal bacteria.  This causes a state of dysbiosis that creates a breeding ground for new colonies of bacteria, yeast, etc.  These organisms grow and multiply under the right conditions.  As a result, overgrowth may occur and these colonies of bacteria can damage and cause micro tears in the intestinal lining (leaky gut).  A healthy mix of supplements and adequate nutrition and lifestyle minimizes this risk.

Side effects of antibiotics:


Avoiding Overuse of Antibiotics

There are a few ways to avoid overuse of antibiotics.  The first is to take  them according to the prescription.  Even if you feel better, finish the treatment.  Failure to do so, puts your at risk of bacteria becoming resistant to the antibiotic.  In addition, consider other sources of antibiotics.  80% of antibiotics sold do not go to humans.  Actually, they are administered to livestock, (cows, pork, chicken).  Conventional farms include this in the feed for animals we consume daily.  Staying away from conventional meat products avoids an intake of concentrated antibiotics and possibly ingesting antibiotic resistant bacteria.


Antibiotic resistance

For IBD patients, bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics is a big danger.  This compromises the immune system which already suffers with autoimmune disease.   About 80% of the immune system is located within the gut flora.   Meats containing antibiotic resistance bacteria, unfinished antibiotic prescriptions, and reaching for these drugs at first sight of a sniffle may wreak havoc on your health.

What are antibiotics?

The umbrella term, antibiotics is used for the group of medicines that are meant kill bacteria.  They treat infections caused by bacteria & parasites.  They are meant for USE not OVERUSE.   On the other hand, you should remain vigilant and never let your guard down against their potential drawbacks. Like all other potent medication, antibiotics have a downside.  They increase the risk of heart complications, cancer, and of course digestive health issues.

Diarrhea for no apparent reason can be seen as a reason to take antibiotics.  However, this is also a symptom that you should slow down on the antibiotic intake.  25% of patients undergoing antibiotic treatment actually have diarrhea and worsening symptoms as a side effect antibiotics. 


The following quote is from a CCFA pamphlet, “Antibiotics are often used in the management of IBD, both to treat disease-related intestinal infections, and occasionally to address intestinal inflammation or disease complications. Infections can mimic the symptoms of an IBD flare. Therefore, your doctor will often check for a variety of intestinal infections when there is a change in your symptoms.”

IBD & Antibiotics

Antibiotics to address IBD are something IBD patients and family members are quite used to.  It is indeed necessary for your doctor to verify the problem is not an infection.  If you are taking a prescription for them now because your doctor is making sure its not H. Pylori before going further with analysis for Ulcerative Colitis or another Inflammatory Bowel Disease consider implementing a fiber, prebiotic, and probiotic rich diet.


How are antibiotics bad for health?

Essentially, they are killing all bacteria which makes them well-known for disturbing your gut flora and throwing it out of balance. This is because they attack and kill both good bacteria & bad.  There is no “target” for antibiotics other than bacteria.  In other words, while they are effective in ridding your body of the infectious bacteria.  They will also devastate & destroy the good ones.  Therefore, while they may have helped your body overcome a bacterial infection for the moment, they may have simultaneously made you even more vulnerable to harboring bad bacteria in the future.  In conclusion,  leaving your gut health in a weaker state.

Side effects on health

Aside from diarrhea, you may also be predisposed to Irritable Bowel Syndrome which can lead to Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBS & IBD). A chronic disorder characterized by constipation, abdominal pain and cramps, gas, bloating and diarrhea. Billions of good bacteria normally thrive in your intestines, more concentration being in the lower parts or your bowel. An antibiotic destroys all of these good elements and thus make you more prone to IBS.

This study, found that long term consumption of common antibiotics puts you at risk of sudden death due to cardiac arrest.  Additionally, other studies prove long term use of antibiotics (every time you are sick) CAUSE IBS and other chronic conditions.  The disturbance of the gut flora, is of course poor gut health, leaky gut, and eventually chronic conditions.

Overuse and misuse of antibiotics is a factor in developing chronic and autoimmune illnesses.

Antibiotics that disturb gut flora, and cause diarrhea and IBS include the following:

  • Amoxicillin-Clavulanate
  • Ampicillin
  • Cefixime
  • Cephalosporin
  • Fluoroquinolones
  • Azithromycin
  • Clarithromycin
  • Erythromycin
  • Tetracycline

The Significance of Good Bacteria in Maintaining Gut Health

We are made up of mostly bacteria.  In fact, the human body has more bacteria than cells.  Naturally, establishing a healthy gut flora helps manage most conditions.  The bacteria in the instestine play many roles.  For example, protecting the gut and fighting against disease causing bacteria.  In addition, strengthening and developing the immune system.   Also, they help break down food to produce a wide variety of enzymes that aid in the absorption of nutrients.

Gut health comprises your overall health when your flora is in dysbiosis. In addition, the chances of contracting future bacterial infections significantly increase.

Natural Alternatives to Antibiotics
  • Probiotics
  • Essential Oils
  • Raw Vitamins
  • IBD Diet

The best thing to do is to prevent infections rather look than look for alternative treatment.  A nutrient dense and healthy diet consisting of real foods is a great starting point.  Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD) are irritated by most antibiotics on the market.  However, they may be necessary and in those cases you can boost your immune system during and after treatment.  Get enough fermented foods in your diet everyday for optimal healing.

In conclusion, you should avoid excessive consumption and exposure to antibiotics.  As a result, when you actually need to, you can turn to them freely to treat infections.  They don’t work against viruses.  For example, the the flu or common cold.  Skip the urge to take a penicillin if your stomach feels funky and grab an immune system booster instead.

  “An ounce of prevention is better worth a pound of cure.” -Benjamin Franklin

2018-06-01T18:41:25+00:00By |0 Comments

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