In this article, we review what antibiotics are, how they work, some potential side effects and also discuss antibiotic resistance.
Antibiotics, also known as anti-bacterials, are medications that destroy or slow down the growth of bacteria. They include a range of powerful drugs and are used to treat diseases caused by bacteria.
Infections caused by viruses, such as colds, flu, most coughs, and sore throats CANNOT be treated with antibiotics.
We have known for some time that one of the unwanted effects of taking antibiotics is the disruption of friendly microbes in the gut. Now a new study that takes a closer look suggests the consequences of long-term antibiotic use could be even far more reaching than we thought:
These drugs may be causing serious long-term consequences of which we are only now becoming fully aware.
Antibiotics destroy the cells in the lining of the gut. Scientists are beginning to discover that antibiotic use, and specifically overuse, is associated with a range of problems that negatively affect, among other things:
The immune system
Food digestion and behavior
Stress and anxiety
These consequences not only affect our individual health, but may even be causing permanent changes to the microflora of people from generation to generation. Changes in our microbiota may even be promoting the transmission of deadly organisms, as one of the important roles of an intact microflora is to resist colonization by pathogenic organisms.
Research also indicates that an infant born by Caesarean delivery has a significant change in gut flora, which then results in the administration of antibiotics to the mother. One study demonstrated significant changes in the primary intestinal flora of infants born through Caesarean delivery, lasting many months if not a life-time if not corrected.
We now know that the individual use of antibiotics causes permanent changes in the gut flora.
This is a serious concern because the lack of diversity in friendly gut bacteria has been shown to contribute to a large number of diseases and complications. Unfortunately, even a single course of antibiotics can permanently alter the gut flora, and lead to complications such as severe diarrhoea and colitis, and the various metabolic consequences of reduced concentrations of fecal flora, suggesting that disturbance of the normal intestinal flora following antibiotic use may be responsible for the overgrowth of dangerous pathogens, fungi and opportunistic bacteria.