If you've got a bacterial infection, taking a course of antibiotics should help restore you to health. But these powerful drugs (which include penicillin, amoxicillin, and tetracycline, to name a few) can cause some unpleasant side effects, such as yeast overgrowth and gastrointestinal trouble.
The first step in protecting yourself from these adverse effects is to avoid unnecessary use of antibiotics. Since antibiotics can only treat bacterial infections (like strep throat, urinary tract infections, and severe sinus infections), they won't be effective against viral infections that cause the common cold, flu, or bronchitis. In addition to the risk of unnecessary side effects, inappropriate use of antibiotics can promote the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and leave you vulnerable to incurable infections later on.
If you find yourself in need of antibiotics, however, you might want to consider ways to reduce your risk of side effects.
Complementary Care for Antibiotics Users
Here are three ways to support your system while you're on antibiotics.
1) Probiotic Supplements
Antibiotics don't just kill the bacteria causing your sickness; they also wipe out beneficial bacteria (called probiotics) that contribute to a healthy digestive system. Taking a probiotic supplement could help prevent gastrointestinal problems resulting from antibiotic use, according to a research review published in 2008. Probiotics, also found in fermented foods like yogurt and kefir, can help stave off yeast infections as well.
Learn more about probiotics.
2) Herbal Tea
If you experience nausea while taking antibiotics, try sipping ginger tea to soothe your stomach. Another common complaint among patients on antibiotics? Loose stools, which may be relieved by drinking raspberry leaf tea.
3) Milk Thistle
Taking antibiotics can tax your liver, which is responsible for breaking down the medications you ingest. The herb milk thistle has been associated with protective antioxidant effects on the liver.
Prevent Bacterial Infection
To reduce your risk of bacterial infections and lower your chances of having to use antibiotics, strengthen your immune system by following a healthy diet, exercising regularly, getting plenty of sleep, and managing your stress with the help of relaxation techniques.
Kligler B, Cohrssen A. "Probiotics." American Family Physician 2008 1;78(9):1073-8.
Patel AV, Rojas-Vera J, Dacke CG. "Therapeutic constituents and actions of Rubus species." Current Medicinal Chemistry 2004 11(11):1501-12.