Even though antibiotics can be just the thing you need to ease your pain and possibly even save your life, they aren’t as good and healthy as you might think they are. You can take antibiotics just the way you’re supposed to and still suffer from a variety of side effects and expose yourself to certain risks. The reason that antibiotics are considered to be so dangerous is because they usually kill off more of the bacteria in your body than they should in order for you to remain healthy. The results of too much destroyed bacteria can include yeast infections, a temporarily compromised immune system and an upset stomach. Some of the chemicals that are found in antibiotics can also cause decreased energy and headaches. While you’ll most definitely want to inform your primary care physician if you have an intense reaction to antibiotics, you should actually keep taking them if you’re only experiencing minor side effects. The reason for this is that if you stop taking the antibiotics you can do serious harm to yourself.
The Evolution of Bacteria and Antibiotics
One of the dangers of antibiotics is that hospitals have come to rely on them to treat brand new strains of bacteria. The reason for new strains of bacteria is that bacteria have been changing and growing according to their native environment. This evolution has been going on for the past three billion years while the use of antibiotics is only less than a century old. It’s difficult to determine if the development of antibiotics will be able to keep up with the evolution of bacteria. Since there are now more resistant pathogens, medical scientists have had to counter by making more powerful antibiotics. More powerful antibiotics will more than likely lead to more powerful harmful side effects. Such powerful side effects could make it nearly impossible for patients to be able to take their antibiotics away from the hospital in case something happens.
Fighting the Side Effects of Antibiotics
There are certain things you can do to combat the ill effects of antibiotics. To keep more good bacteria in your body, take a probiotic and strengthen the level of your good bacteria. Yogurt is a natural probiotic and can help with some of the intestinal discomfort that can come from taking antibiotics. Even if you aren’t taking antibiotics, eating yogurt can help sooth your stomach and keep you from throwing up. Taking an antibiotic can actually make you feel worse for a few days than you already do. Be sure that you eat fresh fruits and vegetables while taking antibiotics and keep away from acidic, processed and salty food as well as GMOs. Healthy eating makes antibiotics work more efficiently and your stomach won’t be as likely to be in revolt while you’re taking antibiotics. It’s also recommended that you drink plenty of water while on antibiotics. Doing so can help your immune system get rid of any infection that might be running rampant in your body.
Something else to think about is that natural human evolution has given us a host of beneficial bacteria and an immune system that can block out pathogens. Using antibiotics keeps the body from naturally developing ways to fight against evolving pathogens. Instead of allowing the body to build up the necessary immunity, people instead make the decision to simply take an antibiotic to speed up the process. A stunted immune system might not harm a particular generation, but it just might harm the next generation. Humans have an innate immunity that is passed from the parents to their children. A person’s innate immunity is often the first wall of defense in protecting the body from harmful bacteria. The second wall of defense is the individual’s acquired immunity that is built up over the course of their life.
Stunted Immune System
Members of the medical community have to decide whether or not it’s worth it for them to continue to recommend so many antibiotics since they are keeping the body’s immune system from evolving the way it would if the person weren’t taking antibiotics. There’s also the question of whether or not antibiotics can actually impede on the body’s ability to fight off infections. With the way that pathogenic bacteria is become more harmful, the human race might soon see a time where infections that were once thought minor can become serious since our immune systems haven’t naturally evolved and developed resistances the way that they should. Currently, medical scientists are developing ways to make antibiotics that work more efficiently.
Viral or Bacterial?
Another problem with antibiotics is that they can be misused. If a patient sees the doctor for an upper respiratory tract infection, it can either be bacterial or viral. Reports have revealed that a fifth of all upper respiratory tract infections in the United States are diagnosed as viral and that patients are given an antibiotic anyway. Giving patients medicine that they don’t need can actually prove fatal or leave the patient in a worse condition than they were in before. Several medical campaigns have been started that recommend medical professionals not be so quick to prescribe or recommend that their patients take an antibiotic. This means that medical professionals have to take the extra steps necessary to truly tell if an infection is viral or bacterial. It also means that patients have to bear in mind that they don’t have to go to the doctor or take an antibacterial every time they have a cold.
In order to lessen our dependence on antibiotics, pharmaceutical companies have started focusing on innate immunity and alternative medicines as well. Their research includes learning more about the many different types of mucus that are created naturally in the human body and how mucus helps keep the body free of pathogens. If all goes well, pharmaceutical researchers will be able to replicate the effects of innate immunity and make it possible for medical professionals to prescribe medicines that are quick and closely mirror the effects of innate immunity.
Even though antibiotics have done more than their fair share of harm than good, they’ve helped to create numerous advances in the medical field and helped attribute to answering the need for new methods of combating antibiotic resistant bacteria. The scientific community will have to work hand-in-hand with pharmaceutical companies in order to keep a close eye on how antibiotics are distributed so that their potency can be maintained.