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The Side Effects of Long-term Antibiotic Use

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In many cases, antibiotics can be lifesavers; however, extensive misuse and over-prescribing have increased the number of drug-resistant germs greatly. While taking antibiotics when you have a bacterial infection such as sinusitis or tonsillitis can cure the infection, taking them for viral infections such as colds and the flu can actually cause more harm than good. One of the major side effects of long-term antibiotic use is antibiotic resistance, and it can be helpful to know some information about it.

Side Effects of Long-term Antibiotic Use Include Antibiotic Resistance

One of the main side effects of long-term antibiotic use is antibiotic resistance, which occurs when antibiotics no longer work against certain disease-causing bacteria. This is usually a problem when you take antibiotics excessively or do not complete a dose of antibiotics, since both allow certain bacteria to develop resistance to medications. These infections are extremely difficult to treat as a result and can mean longer-lasting illnesses, more doctor visits or hospital stays, and more expensive and toxic medications. In some cases, resistant infections can even cause death. Although experts are working hard to develop new types of antibiotics and other treatment options to keep pace with the ever-increasing number of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, infectious organisms adapt quickly.

Other Side Effects of Long-term Antibiotic Use

Other side effects of long-term antibiotic use involve medications losing their ability to treat the infections they should. Antibiotics only treat bacterial infections and are useless against viral infections such as colds and the flu, so taking them for viral illnesses can cause them to become less effective at treating bacterial infections when you need medication. In some cases, you can even make yourself more vulnerable to “superbugs,” illnesses that are immune to many traditional types of antibiotics. If you contract one of these, you may need to undergo much more aggressive treatment options, which carry the risk of severe side effects and can be very expensive over time.

Whenever you take antibiotics for any illness, you should consider the side effects of long-term antibiotic use and make sure you only ask your doctor for antibiotics when you truly need them to recover from your illness. While taking medications for bacterial infections can ultimately mean the difference between recovering from your illness and staying sick much longer than is necessary, taking antibiotics too frequently can damage your body and cause more issues in the future.

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