Even though it may not be preferential, sometimes it’s necessary and you may have to take an antibiotic. If risk of a serious infection is high or there is already one present, it may be in your best health interest for the short term. But you may want to consider all options if it’s not blatantly necessary, especially if you are making a trip to the hospital. According to research published in JAMA Internal Medicine, about 20 percent of U.S. hospital patients who receive antibiotics experience side effects from the drugs!
This study continues to support the growing concern and evidence that antibiotics are being overused. Dr. Pranita Tamma, a program director at Johns Hopkins Hospital and researcher in the study, stated that “Too often, clinicians prescribe antibiotics even if they have a low suspicion for a bacterial infection, thinking that even if antibiotics may not be necessary, they are probably not harmful. But that is not always the case.”
The study group consisted of almost 1,500 adults who were prescribed antibiotics while hospitalized, with reasons ranging from trauma to chronic disease. One patient in five ended up developing one or more antibiotic-related side effects within a month of leaving the hospital. Most prevalent were:
- Digestion problems (42%)
- Kidney problems (24%)
- Blood problems (15%)
The researchers also found that for every additional 10 days of antibiotic treatment, the risk of side effects rose by 3 percent. Over 90 days, 4% of study patients developed a bacterial diarrhea from Clostridium difficile, which has the potential to be severe. In addition, 6% developed infections that were potentially drug-resistant. Most disturbing, however, was that the research findings revealed one-fifth of those who experienced antibiotic-related side effects didn’t require the drugs in the first place!
Injuries, infections and surgeries all can happen, sometimes despite our best efforts to protect ourselves, and antibiotics may be warranted. But for non-serious conditions, it may be in your best interest to determine if they are really necessary. One way to avoid the discussion of whether you would need them at all would be to keep your body as healthy as possible in the first place! Support your body’s natural immune system with good daily practices that keep it functioning at an optimal level.
Diet is always the easiest place to start. Choosing foods high in nutrients and antioxidants (fruits, vegetables, omega-3-rich fish, healthy fats, unprocessed foods) will help bolster your body’s supply of protective ammunition. Avoiding foods that promote inflammation (sugar, processed foods, sodas, alcohol) will reduce the taxing effect these have on your body so that it can be primed and ready to respond effectively should an infection appear on the horizon.
Maintaining gastrointestinal health is also important as it is the biggest part of our immune system. Keeping the good bacteria plentiful with fermented foods and probiotics helps maintain the army of “good soldiers” we need not just for digestion, but also for balance in keeping the bad ones from becoming overpopulated.
Lastly, any way that we can reduce stress (be it physical, mental, or chemical) gives our bodies less “issues” to deal with so it can devote full resources to fighting infection effectively if the need arises. Proper rest, adequate water intake, and maybe not letting our emotions get too ramped up can all help in the process.
If you’re currently dealing with metabolic health challenges (diabetes, elevated cholesterol, digestive issues, poor energy, etc.), you’re already weakening your body’s defense system since it has to deal with these issues in addition to any new threats that may arise. Why not “clean the slate” and give your body a fair fighting chance? A healthy detox or a major diet overhaul may be what you need to help restore the balance. We can provide both, as well as offer coaching and advice on how to keep your body healthy long-term.
That gives you the best chance to take a pass on the antibiotics, and the unwanted side effects they may bring with them.