gut flora

  1. Common drugs can cause bowel disorders

    Treat one disease, cause another -- it's not how medicine is supposed to work, but it happens every single day.

    The antibiotics given for just about every condition under the sun can cause everything from short-term side effects such as diarrhea to far more serious long-term issues.

    And the younger the patient, the bigger those risks -- including the very real possibility of a lifetime of gastrointestinal misery, all from a single course of antibiotics given at the wrong time.

    The problem in young patients is that the drugs can wipe out the friendly bacteria in the gut before they have a chance to establish themselves -- and these are the very bugs needed for proper digestion and overall good health.

    As a result, kids who are given the drugs before their first birthday are 5.5 times more likely to suffer from inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis than kids who aren't given the meds, according to the study of more than a million British children published in the journal Pediatrics.

    These bowel conditions aren't minor illnesses. They're serious conditions that can involve severe stomach pain, constant diarrhea, rectal bleeding and more.

    For adults, inflammatory bowel diseases can be painful and debilitating. And for kids, they could literally ruin childhood.

    Older kids and teens are less likely to suffer these diseases after a single course of antibiotics, in part because their gut flora has had a chance to move in and establish itself.

    But the risk doesn't vanish -- and the study found that the more antibiotics these kids are given, the higher the risk of an IBD.

    Now, there are times when antibiotics might be needed and times when they may even save lives. And in those cases, you can justify those risks.

    But too many doctors are too quick with these meds, giving them out for every minor childhood illness and complaint -- including colds, earaches, and sore throats where the drugs do little or nothing.

    That's why it's essential to try natural treatments first -- and when you do need the meds, make sure you take a probiotic supplement during your treatment and for several weeks afterward.

    And that's true no matter how old -- or young -- you are.

  2. Antibiotic azithromycin can triple the risk of heart death

    The antibiotic that can kill you

    One of the most commonly used antibiotics on the planet has a risk that goes way beyond the usual nausea and diarrhea. In fact, alarming new numbers show that this one can actually kill you.

    It's called azithromycin, but if you were on the receiving end of one of the 55 million prescriptions written for it last year, you probably know it better as the drug in the "Z-Pak" sold under the brand name Zithromax.

    And if you were, be glad you're still here to read this warning -- because researchers say people who take this med die at nearly triple the rate of people who get no meds at all, and double the rate of those who get the competing antibiotic amoxicillin.

    All told, they wrote in The New England Journal of Medicine that 85 out of every 1 million patients who take azithromycin die. If you're already facing heart risk, that number is even higher -- 245 deaths per million.

    The feds issued a warning after the study came out, but were quick to say that the overall risk is small. I'll let you be the judge of that -- but why take that risk at all when most people who get the drug never even needed it in the first place?

    Antibiotics only work against bacteria, not viruses. But since docs usually can't tell which is which without waiting days for test results, they often give the meds to everyone.

    They figure they're covered either way, since a viral illness will often clear up on its own while a bacterial illness will probably respond to the Z-Pak. The patient gets better no matter what and everyone wins, right?

    Wrong.

    Clearly, there's a lot to lose when you take an antibiotic you don't need. Along with that risk of death, all antibiotics come with a risk of stomach pain and diarrhea -- and if that's not enough, they can wreck the delicate balance of bacteria in your gut.

    And let's not forget that antibiotic overuse is leading to the rise of drug-resistant superbugs.

    I won't say you never need an antibiotic. Sometimes you do, and I prescribe them -- even Z-Paks -- myself, but only when the patient needs help beyond natural therapies, which isn't very often.

  3. How probiotics can help prevent antibiotic side effects

    Antibiotics come with a notoriously high risk of side effects such as diarrhea, but a new study shows how probiotics can dramatically lower your risk.
  4. One time you should use antibiotics

    If you have the signs and symptoms of appendicitis, emergency room doctors usually rush to have the organ removed. Maybe they shouldn't be in such a hurry, because doctors in Europe have been treating appendicitis with antibiotics for years -- and the latest study confirms that many of the patients who get the meds avoid surgery altogether.
  5. Antibiotics no longer recommended for sinus infections

    Finally, a little common sense when it comes to antibiotics: A leading medical group is urging docs to stop using these drugs for sinus infections.
  6. Seniors warned over deadly infections

    A deadly new infection is ripping its way through the senior circuit... and in many cases, it's resistant to drugs.

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