Bacteria, viruses, yeasts, fungi, molds and certain other parasites can affect the function of the intestine significantly. Poor personal hygiene and bad eating habits can result in intestinal infection. Intestines and the urinary tract are the most favorite sites of pathogens (harmful bacteria). Infection caused by these pathogens can be life-threatening in some cases. The severity of the infection may vary according to the type of the bacteria. Intestinal yeast infection is not detected until the yeast gets converted into fungi. If a person with poor dietary habits consumes a lot of antibiotics, a conducive and favorable environment for yeast to convert into fungi is created in his intestines. Thus, an overdose or wrong dose of antibiotics can eventually result in an intestinal disorder.
Can Antibiotics Cause Intestinal Infection
Pathogens or harmful bacteria are the microscopic organisms that attack and affect the function of the gastrointestinal tract in the body. Usually, they are the cause of various diseases and stomach and/or intestinal infections. Your immune system is naturally strong enough to fight pathogens, but antibiotics prescribed for dozens of common ailments act as powerful immunosuppressants.
There exist helpful and harmful types of bacteria. Helpful or friendly bacteria ensure that all your body systems function well. These bacteria are not intestinal parasites as they do not damage the digestive tract. They actually enhance your digestive health. Antibiotics are prescribed to kill harmful bacteria. While killing the harmful bacteria, they also kill the friendly Lactobacillus from your intestines.
Destruction of friendly bacteria severely impairs digestion and assimilation of nutrients, at a time, when your body needs them most. Bacteria like Clostridium difficile can cause diarrhea, pain and other diseases when the friendly bacteria in the intestine have been destroyed by antibiotics. Deficiency of good bacteria leads to poor absorption of nutrients which eventually results in a weakened immune system. And, the environment becomes suitable for fast growth of harmful bacteria. Thus, overuse of antibiotics results in intestinal infection.
- Diarrhea leading to dehydration (excessive thirst, lightheadedness, dizziness)
- Bad breath
- Bloating, intestinal gases, dyspepsia
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain, cramps
- Bloody stools
- A distinctive foul stool odor
- Fever, flu-like symptoms
- Malnutrition or vitamin deficiency
- Skin rashes
- Sleep disorder
- Impaired immune system
- Prolonged infection can lead to anemia
If the balance of the bowel ecology is disrupted by antibiotics, serious health problems may develop on a long term basis. The intestinal flora plays an important role in maintaining your body's chemical and hormonal balance. The friendly bacteria killed by antibiotics need to be replenished as soon as possible, in order to maintain good health. Levels of friendly bacteria can be raised by incorporating appropriate supplements and foods in regular diet. Negligence might create good breeding ground for future illnesses. Many important vitamins in the digestive tract are synthesized by the friendly bacteria. Dietary supplements may help replenish these vitamins.
Only Lactobacillus can keep candidiasis and other harmful yeast infections under control. Friendly bacteria help maintain the pH balance in the body. A healthy diet helps restore the pH balance of your body. Friendly bacteria flourish in a balanced pH environment. Thus, a diet that includes lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grain products that are rich in vitamins and minerals is essential to fight intestinal infection caused by antibiotics. A low sugar, low calorie, high fiber diet can improve the digestive health significantly.
A low-carb diet is useful in controlling the production of harmful bacteria in the gut. Certain herbal oils like peppermint oil can help eradicate harmful bacteria in the small intestine. Intake of additional digestive enzymes and probiotics can also curb the growth of destructive bacteria. Unsweetened yogurt which is packed with beneficial bacteria can effectively control the overgrowth of harmful bacteria. One capsule of peppermint oil after meals promotes fast recovery from intestinal infection.
However, excessive use of peppermint oil can result in certain side-effects, such as, heartburn, burning of rectum, and minty belching. Adding garlic to the diet can improve digestion. Other herbal remedies like the extract of grapefruit seeds, oregano oil, olive leaf extract and turmeric root extract can help improve the digestive health of the person. Thus, intestinal infection caused by bacteria can be effectively treated with the help of certain herbal remedies. But the person should limit the intake of sugary food, high fat food and starchy substances. Then only, he/she will be able to get rid of the symptoms of intestinal infection.
The intestinal flora helps absorb nutrients from the food. It plays an important role in maintaining high energy levels. It enhances the immune function and helps destroy cancer causing compounds in the colon. It, thus, determines your physical and mental health and well-being. It influences your metabolism, and indirectly determines your life span. Antibiotics can, in some cases, spare life but they should be used sparingly, and strictly under the guidance of your physician.
If you stop taking them before getting rid of the infection (after noticing some improvement in the condition), it can lead to formation of a new strain of bacteria that would be resistant to the prescribed antibiotics. Then, you may have to take more and stronger antibiotics to fight the new strain of bacteria. To break this vicious cycle, you should follow the instructions of your physician regarding the dosage and the duration for which you are expected to take the antibiotics.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.