How to Prevent Diarrhea While Taking Antibiotics

Many individuals endure an upset stomach when taking certain antibiotics to fight or kill bacterial infections. Diarrhea along with gas and abdominal cramping are common ailments. Long-term usage of antibiotics can lead to infections such as colitis or even the inflammation of your colon.

The main concern with antibiotics that kill bacteria in your lungs, sinuses and other places, is that the antibiotics also affects the digestive balance in your intestine.

Intestines with Gut Bacteria

This is one of the main reasons why many experts recommend not overusing antibiotics and taking them only when you truly need them to fight an infection or virus (as a final resort for many patients). There are also certain precautions you can follow to decrease or even completely stop diarrhea.

1. The power of probiotics

It may seem counter-intuitive to take probiotics; however, they are vital to keep your digestive system healthy with the help of bacteria in the body. Probiotics are unlike bacteria that can cause infection, they help treat side effects that are common when taking antibiotics. Probiotics generally have little to no side effects themselves. Studies show that they are useful in case of common antibiotic-associated diarrhea and diarrhea connected to Clostridium difficile as well.

Moreover, probiotics can help prevent side effects such as cramping and gas. They are usually Lactobacillus rhamnosus- based or Saccharomyces boulardii-based. Generally, probiotics arrive in the forms of tablets, capsules, powders and even liquids. If you suffer from immune deficiencies or are severely debilitated, make sure to ask your doctor before consuming any probiotics as they can possibly be dangerous to certain people

2. Pay attention to what you eat

Would you like to get probiotics from food? Many types of yogurt contain probiotics. Look for “active and live cultures” on the label. It is advised to consume one or two plain Greek yogurts per day for patients consuming antibiotics. However, if eating dairy triggers stomach problems, go easy on dairy heavy foods while consuming antibiotics.

People who have more GI (gastrointestinal) symptoms usually develop more GI side effects while consuming antibiotics, but each case is unique.  

Foods that do not harm others may upset you, trust your gut.  If spicy foods are usually cause you upset stomachs, avoid them when taking antibiotics. If sugar is your trigger, avoid sugary foods. Although fiber is usually important for digestion, you may need to decrease your consumption if your diarrhea flares up while you are taking antibiotics.

3. Should antibiotics be taken with or without food?

See the label on your antibiotics. Does it advise you to take them on an empty stomach or with food?  Either way, you should follow the instructions given. Some antibiotics are better consumed on an empty stomach find out the optimal way to consume yours. 

Plain yogurt topped with blueberry and raspberry

Regular recommendations for treating diarrhea still apply:

  • Drink a lot of water to prevent dehydration and use rehydrating beverages high in electrolytes if necessary.
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine if they are making diarrhea worse. Keep in mind that alcohol may cause severe reactions while you are taking certain antibiotics. See the label for that information.
  • Eat more of a bland diet than you might normally eat.

Common sense should keep you from disrupting the natural balance of antibiotics. Keep in mind that anything that triggers GI symptoms could make your side effects even worse.

Be cautious to avoid these undesirable side effects.


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