If the side effects alone weren't enough, there is now even more reason not to take antibiotics unless they are needed. The overuse of antibiotics has been linked to an increase in antibiotic resistance and now to an increase in IBD, specifically Crohn's disease (1, 2).
It isn't completely clear how the long term use of certain antibiotics can increase the risk for Crohn's disease but it may be due to the imbalance of gut bacteria that it can cause. Our guts have a host of bacteria that are present normally. These "healthy bacteria" support functions from digestion to immune response in the GI tract. Unfortunately when we bombard the body with antibiotics they don't differentiate between what bacteria they are killing and often wipe out the good along with the bad. Especially when the antibiotics are used for a long time period.
This is not to say that antibiotics are harmful in and of themselves. They have provided a cure to infections that have been deadly in the past. Used properly they are an essential arsenal in remaining healthy. The problem is that they are often used more frequently than needed. Patients who go to the doctor want to leave with some kind of treatment but remember that viruses can not be treated with an antibiotic.
Infections that last beyond 10 days, or that have been determined to be bacterial in nature by testing, may require antibiotics. It can help to replenish your body with the healthy bacteria by eating natural sources like kefir or yogurt or perhaps by taking a probiotic supplement. It is also important to take your antibiotic as instructed and finish the full course.
As always, prevention is the best medicine. Hand washing and avoiding contact with people who have recently been ill can help limit you potential to catch illnesses. Naturally boosting your immune system by getting enough rest, eating a healthy diet rich with fruits and vegetables as well as getting enough exercise can also help prevent illnesses to start with.
Take care of your body and use antibiotics only when they are actually indicated. This will help to lessen your own chances of dealing with the risks of their overuse.
Published On: February 16, 2011