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Ill effects of taking too much antibiotics

First of all it is important to understand that any medication, either prescribed or available over the counter, taken above the recommended levels could pose serious threat to one’s health. Similarly, antibiotics too can pose serious health issues when ingested either for longer duration or at higher dosages than recommended amounts. Antibiotics, can sometimes pose serious health issues from increasing toxicity in the body to reducing bacterial antibiotic resistance even when taken for short period of time, let alone for life-long therapy. 

Before delving into the topic, let us try to understand the importance of antibiotics and how they work on human body. Antibiotics are medicines used to treat infections or diseases that are primarily caused by bacteria. These drugs block processes in the bacteria that are vital for their survival, thus kill them and stop them from multiplying. This helps the body's natural immune system to wrestle the bacterial infection/diseases. 

Antibiotics are recommended by doctors in treating a wide range of infections and diseases that are caused by bacteria that include cold & cough, urinary tract infections, skin diseases, wound infections etc. Since its introduction in the early 1940s, Antibiotics have saved millions of lives; however, because of their overuse, many antibiotics are no longer effective against the bacteria they once killed, for bacteria have developed deep antibiotic resistance. Here is the list of ill effects and side effects of antibiotics when taken in amounts more than recommended by your physician/s – 

  1. Diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting - Antibiotics are known to disturb the imbalance between good and bad bacteria in the stomach/intestine. Antibiotics, especially the Amoxicillin is known to kill the good bacteria, while allowing the bad bacteria (Clostridium difficile) (https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/05/25/antibiotics-c-diff-infections/?_r=0 )  to thrive and multiply causing C. difficile-associated disease. This causes diarrhoea or nausea and sometimes life-threatening bowel inflammation.
  2. Allergic reactions – Antibiotics such as penicillin and amoxicillin when taken in large amounts or for a long duration of time is known to cause rashes or hives on the skin (http://www.healthline.com/drugs/amoxicillin/oral-tablet#SideEffects2 ) ; and sometimes causes high fever or breathing problems. It is highly recommended for patients with such allergic reactions to communicate the same to their physicians before the commencement of treatment for the patient’s current illness.  
  3. Candidiasis - Candida albicans (or candida) is a kind of yeast that under normal circumstances lives harmlessly in the body, especially in the vagina. Women who are under antibiotics can notice imbalance of bacteria in the vagina allowing this yeast to thrive (http://patient.info/in/health/antibiotics-leaflet ) , causing thrush which includes itchiness, pain and vaginal discharge.
  4. Respiratory Issues/side effects – Antibiotics, especially taken for longer duration, can sometimes cause respiratory issues such as wheezing and heavy breathing. Severe cases of respiratory allergy to antibiotics can lead to anaphylaxis; anaphylaxis is a condition where throat gets swollen leading to the person’s inability to breathe normally while causing blood pressure to drop considerably.
  5. Antibiotic resistance – Antibiotic taken when it’s not needed or when ingested for long duration our body might develop resistance to it. This resistance to the drug makes it ineffective against the bacteria it is intended to fight. Development of such an antibiotic resistance against bacteria is a cause for worry, because it makes one to go for higher dosages or longer duration dosages of antibiotics in future that might bring about another set of side effects altogether. 

All in all, too much antibiotics can be dangerous. To be on the safer side, always communicate your allergies to antibiotics and symptoms of your condition to the doctor without any hesitation in order to get the right antibiotics at the right amount and for the right duration of time. 

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