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What are Antibiotic Side Effects?

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  • Written By: Brad Cole
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 21 September 2018
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Antibiotics are a type of drugs that have revolutionized medicine and saved countless lives. Still, those taking antibiotics often experience antibiotic side effects — unintended and adverse events due to taking the drug. Most of these reactions can be categorized as one of three types: body interaction reactions, flora reactions, and drug-drug interactions.

Body interaction reactions are the result of antibiotics reacting negatively with the human body and its systems. There are two main types of these reactions. Allergic reactions are when the drug negatively reacts with the user’s immune system, and can result in congestion, dizziness, difficulty breathing, dry eyes, itchiness, nausea, photodermatitis, rapid pulse, rashes, and swelling.

Toxic side effects are when large amounts of poison build up in the body as a result of the drug’s metabolism or the body’s response to the drug, and can result in nerve damage, organ failure, and death. Toxic side effects can be directly related to an allergic reaction, as the histamines the body produces to get rid of the drug can also cause a toxic reaction. These types of antibiotic side effects are some of the most deadly, and should be reported to a doctor immediately if they occur.

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Flora reactions are when antibiotics react with the bacteria and other living organisms (flora) that normally exist in the human body. Sometimes, antibiotics kill off the “good flora” in body, causing various biological systems to not work properly. At other times, not only is the good flora killed, but bad flora is able to grow unchallenged in the body as a result. Common antibiotic side effects of this type include diarrhea, nausea, and yeast infections. Negative flora reactions can often be alleviated by taking probiotics at correct intervals during antibiotic treatment.

Drug-drug interactions are when antibiotics react with other drugs that are in the user’s system and cause negative side effects. Alcohol is one of the most common and dangerous of these interactions, and can cause nausea, shortness of breath, and vomiting. Antibiotics can also interact with birth control pills and negate their effectiveness, possibly leading to unplanned pregnancies in those that are unaware. Certain vitamins and minerals can, in large quantities, negate the effectiveness of antibiotics. Finally, some acidic fluids can make antibiotics more or less effective, depending on the antibiotics being taken. Patients that have been prescribed antibiotics should tell their doctors and pharmacists all of the drugs they are currently taking before they start using antibiotics.

The possibility of antibiotic side effects can be frightening, but it is important to remember that their proper use has saved countless lives. Those using antibiotics should report any possible negative reactions to their doctor immediately. In some cases, doctors will have their patients continue using a specific antibiotic if the side effects are mild; in others, the doctor will switch the patient to another drug.

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Scrbblchick
Post 4

@Rotergirl -- Sounds like fun. Ha. I tend to get horrible diarrhea, depending on the antibiotic in question. Yogurt does help with that.

My hubby got a terrible case of hives after a couple of days on an antibiotic. It was pretty awful. I had to get him some antihistamines to help him get through the outbreak. He was absolutely miserable.

Rotergirl
Post 3

If I'm prescribed an antibiotic, I just go ahead and get a scrip for Fluconazole, to get rid of the yeast infection I will be sure to acquire after a couple of days on the antibiotics. I know I'm going to get one, so it's just easier to get both scrips filled at the same time. That way, I know I'll have relief nearby when the inevitable happens.

Antibiotics are great, but sometimes they do cause inconvenient side effects.

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