Probiotics to the Rescue.
Bouncing back after antibiotic use.
Chances are if you are the owner of a human body, you’ve taken at least one course of antibiotics in your lifetime. Whether it was bubble-gum flavored amoxicillin for that ear infection in childhood or penicillin for the case of strep throat that roared through the school, your body was likely both helped (necessarily!) and unfortunately, to some extent harmed by antibiotic medication.
The Impact of Antibiotics
An antibiotic prescription is the standard of care for various bacterial infections affecting virtually any site in the body, and for good reason: antibiotic medications have helped save millions of lives. But they are not without risks of side effects: as the name anti-biotic implies, these medications kill bacteria. And although this can be quite helpful, say, in the case of killing the E. coli that’s causing a urinary tract infection and stopping the infection in the bladder before it can crawl up into the kidneys and wreak havoc there, antibiotic medications are not particularly discerning in what strains they kill, or where. By their very nature, antibiotics disrupt the microbial milieu of the digestive tract and other body systems, killing the “good” strains of bacteria along with the bad.
This shift in bacterial balance predisposes antibiotic users to dysbiosis, or a microbial imbalance, leaving them at increased risk of side effects, particularly in the gastrointestinal tract where a large percentage of these commensal organisms are found. Reduced microbial diversity can also encourage the growth of opportunistic pathogens such as Clostridium difficile (aka “C-diff”), a potentially life-threatening condition, as well as a decline in the immune system’s ability to fight off infections in various sites of the body. Alterations to the normal microbial milieu is why many people notice diarrhea or other digestive complaints after taking an antibiotic, and why women often develop yeast vaginitis after a course of treatment. On a longer-term scale, decreased microbial diversity has also been associated with obesity, atopic conditions like eczema, asthma, and allergies, and even mood imbalances like anxiety and depression.