Antibiotics represent a category of medications that are commonly prescribed to treat bacterial infections. In fact, they are the most common type of medication prescribed in the United States. While safe and effective in most cases, as with all medications, there is a possibility for side effects and allergic reactions ranging from mild to serious. We offer the following antibiotic alerts to help you respond appropriately if you experience them.
Antibiotic Side Effects and Reactions
While many people take antibiotics with no noticeable side effects at all, the most common that you may experience include:
- Upset stomach, nausea and diarrhea
- Vaginal yeast infections
- Oral yeast infections (called thrush)
- Mild skin rash or sensitivity
More severe side effects, which may indicate an allergic reaction, include:
- Hives or swelling of face, lips or tongue
- Difficulty breathing or wheezing
- Severe nausea, stomach cramping and vomiting
- Rapid heart rate
What to Do
If you experience mild side effects, talk to your doctor or pharmacist. They may be able to help you alleviate the problem. Your doctor may also adjust the dose or prescribe a different antibiotic.
If you experience serious side effects or allergic reactions, seek immediate medical care. The most severe type of reaction, anaphylaxis, can be life-threatening. In this case, your doctor will prescribe a different class of antibiotics.
To effectively treat your infection and prevent antibiotic resistance, you must complete your prescribed course of antibiotic treatment. You may start to feel better before finishing the prescription, but that doesn’t mean the infection is gone. If the side effects make it too difficult to finish, talk to your doctor or pharmacist for advice.
Other Antibiotic Alerts
If you have an allergic reaction to one antibiotic, it’s likely you will react to others in the same class. Let your doctor and pharmacist know about any past reactions.
Also, tell your provider and pharmacist about any other medications you are taking, including over the counter meds and supplements, so they can check for potential interactions. For example, some antibiotics should not be taken with blood thinners or antacids. You may also need to avoid certain foods and fruit juices that can interfere with the effectiveness of the antibiotic, like calcium supplements, alcohol, grapefruit and dairy products.
In addition, remember that antibiotics only work for bacterial infections, not viral ones like a cold or flu. Pressuring your provider for a prescription for antibiotics when they are not indicated can lead to antibody resistance. If over-used, your body can become resistant to the effect of antibiotics. This means that the medications may not work effectively for you when needed for future bacterial infections, making them very difficult to treat.
As always, if you have any questions about antibiotics or other medications, please give us a call.