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Antibiotics 101: How to avoid antibiotic-associated tummy troubles


It’s that time of year again and a possible course of antibiotics is on the horizon. While you are looking for relief from that sinus infection, urinary tract infection, or other malady, you may be loathing the impending assault on your gut. One of the most common reasons why people have trouble with antibiotics is due to the negative results on the GI tract. Antibiotic associated diarrhea is often the result of losing too many of the “good” bacteria in your gut.  Your intestines are filled with loads of bacteria, all of which contribute to a healthy intestinal micro-environment or flora. These little critters are important as they help digest nutrients and fight other micro-organisms. Often during antibiotic treatment, they are the unfortunate collateral damage resulting from treating the bacterial infection. So, what can you do to help these little guys out?  See below for some tips on how to best avoid tummy troubles that can come with antibiotic use.

1.       Take a probiotic

One of the best ways to prevent belly problems is to take a probiotic. These are supplements, often in pill form, that contain cultures of good bacteria that have been shown to help replace those lost from antibiotics. One scientific study showed that people who take probiotics had less than half the rate of antibiotic associated diarrhea when compared to those who didn’t take them.

2.       Eat some yogurt

Don’t want to fork over another $20 for the probiotic? Do you like the taste of yogurt? If you answered yes to either of these questions then this might be the best option. Yogurt with live cultures contains many of the same “good” bacteria that a probiotic does. This can be a cheap and easy way to foster your gut health while taking your antibiotics.

3.       Take the antibiotics at the right time – after a meal or with food

Many antibiotics are less irritating to the stomach when taken AFTER eating a meal. Included in this are amoxicillin and doxycycline, two of the most commonly prescribed. The idea is that if you have some food in the stomach it can help decrease the effect on the gut flora and prevent stomach upset. Pay attention though and read through your pharmacy information, as some antibiotics are better taken on an empty stomach to improve their effectiveness. Check with your pharmacist or provider for full information.

At SmartDocMD we have taken out the guesswork of whether or not you will need that antibiotic. We use a proprietary A.I. software system to help our patients (and doctors) figure out the difference between the common cold, a bacterial sinus infection or something worse.  If you are feeling ill, please click here to take a free online patient interview today and start feeling better without the travel and wait at the doctor’s office. We’ll let you know if you need an antibiotic, are eligible to see the doctor online, or just need some time to get well. So, skip the waiting room and start your care now.

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