When you suffer from strep throat, an ear infection, a urinary tract infection or other common bacterial infections, the most common medication prescribed by doctors is antibiotics.
Antibiotics are medicines used to treat bacterial infections. There are different types of antibiotics that work against different strains of bacteria and some types of parasites.
When used properly, they either kill or inhibit the growth of bacteria that cause a particular health problem. This in turn helps your natural immune system fight the infection.
But antibiotics often have side effects that cause other temporary health issues. Some common side effects include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, vaginal yeast infections, allergic reactions and inner ear problems.
At the same time, excess use or misuse of antibiotics can make them ineffective, weaken your immunity, increase your cancer risk and even reduce the effectiveness of birth control pills.
If you experience a mild adverse reaction to a round of antibiotics, there is nothing to worry about. You can easily treat the issue naturally. For severe adverse reactions, contact your doctor immediately.
Here are the top 10 ways to deal with antibiotic side effects.
1. Eat Probiotic Yogurt
When taking antibiotics, it is highly recommended to include yogurt with ‘good bacteria’ in your diet.
Eating yogurt that contains ‘live cultures’ (also labeled as probiotic yogurt) helps your body recover from diarrhea, one of the common side effects of antibiotics. These live cultures are gut-friendly bacteria that provide a layer of protection in the intestines and help generate lactic acid to get bacterial toxins out of the body.
A 2011 study published in Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology reports that probiotics show promise for the prevention of antibiotic-associated diarrhea.
Another study published in 2015 in BMJ Open shows that probiotic yogurt is an effective method for reducing the incidence of antibiotic-associated gastrointestinal disturbance in children.
When taking antibiotics, simply eat the yogurt as it is or you can make a smoothie with it. You can eat this yogurt several times a day.
2. Eat Fermented Foods or Take a Probiotic Supplement
Apart from yogurt, many fermented foods naturally contain a high amount of probiotics. So, in addition to yogurt, include kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut, pickles, pickled beets, pickled turnips, pickled carrots and kimchi in your diet.
Alternatively, you can opt to take probiotic supplements, after consulting your doctor.
Like probiotic yogurt, probiotic supplements or fermented foods can help prevent gastrointestinal problems resulting from antibiotic use. It must be continued long after the course of antibiotics has been completed. In fact, it is a good idea to make fermented foods a regular part of your diet.
3. Eat Garlic
Garlic is a natural antibiotic that helps kill harmful microbes without the side effects of antibiotic medicines. Also, it contains an important compound known as allicin that protects your kidneys and liver from the potential damage of antibiotics.
A 1999 study published in Microbes and Infection found that the sulfur compound known as allicin in garlic act as natural antibiotics.
Adding garlic to your diet and taking a daily supplement of 500 mg is a helpful way to detox your body from the harmful residue of antibiotics. Consult your doctor before starting any supplements.
4. Take Milk Thistle Supplements
Taking traditional antibiotics can be hard on your liver, which is responsible for breaking down the medications you ingest.
To protect your liver from any damage due to a course of antibiotics, the herb milk thistle is very effective. The rich antioxidants in this herb help protect the liver.
The active ingredient silibinin in it also has detoxifying and hepatoprotective effects.
Milk thistle is available in supplement form as a liquid extract, capsules and a tincture. Consult your doctor for the proper dosage and suitability for your condition.
5. Sip Ginger Tea
Whether you suffer from diarrhea, nausea or vomiting due to prescribed antibiotics, ginger is effective in dealing with these side effects.
Ginger’s natural antibiotic property helps prevent and treat many health problems caused by bacteria. Fresh ginger has an antibiotic effect against food-borne pathogens as well as respiratory and periodontal infections.
Ginger is also known for alleviating stomach and gastrointestinal discomforts.
Sip ginger tea up to 3 times a day to help deal with side effects from antibiotics. To make the tea:
- Grate 1 inch of fresh ginger.
- Boil it in about 1½ cups of water for 10 minutes.
- Strain, add honey and lemon juice for taste, and drink it slowly.
You can opt to take ginger capsules, after consulting your doctor.
6. Eat Bland Foods
Some of the most widely reported side effects of antibitoics include diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.
To counter these issues, it is advisable that you eat only bland food during and after a cource of antibiotics. These types of food inlcude dry crackers, plain bread, white rice, etc.
Eating bland foods are easy to digest and help give rest to your gastrointestinal tract, thus allowing it to recover from the strong actions of antibitoics. This is important since antibiotics destroy bad as well as good bacteria.
If you keep eating carbohydrate rich, sugary and spicy food, you will put yourself through a lot more sessions of diarrhea, nausea and vomiting as your GI tract will not be able to keep up with the demads.
7. Drink Apple Cider Vinegar Tonic
Apple cider vinegar has antibacterial properties that help fight harmful bacteria in your body. Also, it is a good remedy for controlling diarrhea, one of the common side effects of antibiotic medicine.
Moreover, it contains several nutrients that boost your immunity.
- Mix 1 to 2 tablespoons of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar in a glass of water.
- Drink it 2 times a day until your condition improves.
8. Drink Enough Fluids
To counter dry mouth caused by medicines and a mild loss of fluids from diarrhea or vomiting, drink more water.
Drinking an ample amount of water throughout the day will keep your body hydrated.
For a more-severe loss of water, drink fluids that contain water, sugar and salt to help replace electrolytes that the body needs.
You can also drink broth or juice from fruits and vegetables with high water content. At the same time, avoid beverages that are high in sugar or contain alcohol or caffeine, such as coffee, tea and colas, which can worsen your symptoms.
9. Stay Healthy
One way to deal with side effects of antibiotics is to stay healthy so you don’t have to take them for long. Take steps to support your health in the following way.
- Follow a healthy diet that is rich in antioxidants, fiber and other important nutrients.
- Light exercise is equally important. It doesn’t have to be vigorous exercise. What matters is regularity.
- Get plenty of sleep and manage your stress level with the help of relaxation techniques.
- Quit smoking and drinking in excess, as both can have a negative impact on your immunity.
10. Take Antibiotics as Directed
Last but not least, you must always take your antibiotic medicine as directed by your physician.
For instance, some antibiotics should be taken only with water. Others need to be taken with food in order to increase their absorption in the body and ward off an upset stomach, a common side effect of antibiotics.
Also, you should finish the entire prescribed course of antibiotics, even if your symptoms clear up. When medication is stopped mid course, the infection could linger and cause more problems.
Never take antibiotics unless your doctor feels they are necessary.