Knowledge is Power!

Remember when your taking antibiotics it takes away all the bacteria, including the good ones. That is why the last day of your prescription is the most important because it replenishes the good bacteria.Bacterial infections are a common occurrence in the health care system. There are many types of infections,caused by a wide variety of bacteria, that affect various parts of the body. In most cases, the treatment of bacterial infections requires the use of prescription antibiotics. Unfortunately, antibiotics can also kill bacteria that are part of the normal host flora in your body, resulting in an imbalance that allows the overgrowth of certain species that can result in another infection.


There are many types of antibiotics, each with a unique mechanism of action. The selection of an antibiotic for treatment depends on the type of infection, the likely organisms involved, and local resistance patterns. For most infections, antibiotics are either taken orally or given as an intravenous infusion. Unfortunately, an antibiotic used to treat an infection can also kill normal host bacteria that are susceptible to the effects of the medication.  

Normal Flora

The most noticeable effect of antibiotics on host bacteria typically occurs in the digestive tract. The intestines contain bacteria that are part of the normal gut flora that help to digest and process consumed food. These bacteria may also produce vitamins for the body such as vitamin K. In addition to the digestive system, bacteria that are part of the normal vaginal flora in women can also be affected by the use of antibiotics. Most digestive bacteria reside in the intestines since they cannot survive in the acidic environment within the stomach. However, H. pylori can reside in the stomach, but is not considered a good bacteria since it is responsible for gastric ulcers.

Antibiotic Effects on Normal Flora

The use of antibiotics can cause an imbalance of the normal flora within the digestive tract. Certain types of bacteria may take advantage of this opportunity to prosper and cause an infection. Clostridium difficile is a common intestinal infection that can occur following the use of certain antibiotics. Symptoms of a gut infection include abdominal cramps, bloating, bloody stools, fever, and excessive diarrhea. In women, antibiotics can kill normal vaginal flora, leaving the individual more susceptible to yeast infections.


In order to maintain a normal balance in the gut, probiotics medications can be used for patients who are using antibiotics. Probiotics are live cultures of bacteria that are normally found within the digestive system. In addition to probiotic medications, live cultures may also be available in certain food products such as yogurt. Patients should speak with a physician with concerns about the use of antibiotics and probiotics.  

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