Do Antibiotics Make You Well … or Sick?

In the 1940’s with the discovery of penicillin we had what seemed to be a miracle drug. The creation of stronger antibiotic families and the overuse of these medications has, unfortunately become associated with a host of health care concerns.

Most of us think of antibiotic side effects first. Some studies estimate up to 47% of all drug allergies are due to antibiotics. More startling than this, however is antibiotic resistance. While antibiotics are sometimes necessary, their overuse has resulted in the American Medical Association issuing a statement that ” Due to improper use and abuse of antibiotics, strains of bacteria that infect the human body have become resistant to antibiotics.”

Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria
The overuse of antibiotics in humans and the animals we consume has enabled the creation of bacterial super strains that are resistant to antibiotics. Antibiotic resistance is now the most common concern associated with antibiotic use. At least 2 million people a year are infected by bacterial super strains with approximately 23,000 people dying annually due to them. (This number doesn’t include deaths from conditions complicated by this type of infection.)

Candidiasis and Hormonal Imbalance
While women commonly develop yeast infections as an outcome of taking antibiotics, most people don’t realize that Candida (yeast) can occur anywhere in a human body after antibiotics, producing a variety of toxins and symptoms.

Leaky Gut
A common antibiotic-related issue is intestinal hyperpermeability, or “leaky gut” which occurs when small food molecules leak from gut to bloodstream causing the immune system to become sensitized to the food. If good bacteria are not restored to the GI tract, chronic leaky gut will create inflammation of many different body tissues causing a variety of complaints. Leaky gut may be involved with Crohn’s disease, celiac sprue, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, systemic yeast (chronic candidiasis) and food allergies.

While many physicians recognize the link between antibiotic and unbalanced intestinal flora, they may not always recognize that sugared yogurt from the grocery store to obtain your “probiotics” is not a good solution fix to this issue.

Breast Cancer Risk
A study of women with breast cancer found that women who took antibiotics for more than 500 days (or had more than 25 prescriptions) over an average period of 17 years had twice the risk of breast cancer as women who had taken no antibiotics. The risk was smaller for women who took fewer antibiotics, but even women who had between 1 and 25 prescriptions over 17 years had an increased risk of breast cancer.

Cardiac Damage
Another side effect of antibiotic is heart related. In March of 2013 the FDA issued a warning that azithromycin (Zithromax or Zmax) can cause changes in the electrical activity of the heart that may lead to a potentially fatal irregular heart rhythm. ..

Patients on certain antibiotics may develop hemolytic anemia (abnormal breakdown of red blood cells).

Rashes are common and are highly variable conditions. Any antibiotic has potential to cause a rash. Serious drug reactions include facial swelling, hives, blisters, fever or lymph node swelling.

Occasionally, prolonged use of antibiotics can cause nervous system issues such as seizures, hallucinations and twitching.

Musculoskeletal Toxicity
Severe joint and muscle pain can be caused by some antibiotics. (Tell your chiropractor if you are taking an antibiotic and are feeling more sore!)

Diarrhea and Colitis
Treatment with antibiotics kills beneficial bacteria along with the bacteria responsible for illness potentially allowing other harmful bacteria or yeast to take hold resulting in side effects such as diarrhea, cramping and colitis.

Be very conservative about taking antibiotics. They should only be used with a confirmed, non-resolving bacterial infection. Generally in a healthy individual even bacterial infections should resolve with symptoms improving in 5 to 7 days.

We have a variety of ways of helping you take care of your illness without antibiotic use. Traditional Chinese medicine has been treating colds, flu’s and other illnesses effectively for thousands of years. If you have questions about treating illness holistically, please contact our office at (636)928-5588.

Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2011 May; 71(5): 684–700. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2125.2010.03774.x
PMCID: PMC3093074 Epidemiology and risk factors for drug allergy
Bernard Y-H Thong and Teck-Choon Tan

Antibiotic Use in Relation to the Risk of Breast Cancer, Christine M. Velicer, PhD, Susan R. Heckbert, MD, PhD, Johanna W. Lampe, PhD, RD, John D. Potter, MD, PhD, Carol A. Robertson, RPh, Stephen H. Taplin, MD, MPH, ©2004 American Medical Association. JAMA, February 18, 2004—Vol 291, No. 7

Drug Induced Immune Hemolytic Anemia