The most common antibiotic side effects are gastrointestinal in nature. Many people who take antibiotics experience some level of gastrointestinal distress, especially if they have to take a prolonged course of antibiotics. Other side effects of antibiotics are more rare, and usually limited to specific classes of antibiotics. It is advisable to read patient information carefully to learn more about potential side effects, drug interactions, and risks before starting a course of antibiotics.
Antibiotics are medications that are effective against bacterial infections. They are divided into a number of classes that can attack different types of organisms. If a doctor suspects that a patient has a bacterial infection, these medications can be prescribed to fight the infection and help the patient recover. A culture may be requested to find out which organisms are present so the most appropriate drug can be prescribed.
Unfortunately, antibiotics do not discriminate, and as a result, they tend to kill many beneficial organisms in the body. People taking these drugs can experience antibiotic side effects like nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach cramps as a result of disturbances to the gut flora. These antibiotic side effects tend to grow worse over time. If they become debilitating, it may be possible to switch antibiotic medications. Some doctors may recommend taking probiotic supplements to keep the organisms in the gut in balance.
Another antibiotic side effect is the development of yeast infections in the mouth or vagina. This occurs because of an imbalance in the body's natural bacteria as well. People may notice a strong smell, foul discharge, or the appearance of white patches. If a yeast infection develops, a doctor may recommend changing medications in addition to providing treatment to resolve the infection.
More rare antibiotic side effects include sensitivity to sunlight, blood disorders, seizures, hearing loss, and fever. Extended use of aggressive antibiotics can lead to organ damage, especially in the kidneys, liver, and heart. This can cause symptoms like arrhythmias, jaundice, and edema. If patients notice signs of more serious side effects while on antibiotic medications, they should contact a doctor. Some antibiotics also cause allergic reactions. Patients who experience signs of allergies like skin breakouts and difficulty breathing should stop taking the medication and call a doctor immediately for advice and treatment. The doctor may prescribe a new medication, and a note will be made on the patient's chart about the allergic response and the antibiotic involved.