An antibiotic experiment

Thursday, May 7, 2009

As a result of my unfortunate dental experience last week, I was prescribed Clindamycin, an antibiotic, that I was told to take every 6 hours. With a concerned look on her face, the dentist also warned me that this drug might cause some unpleasant side effects – like nausea and “explosive” diarrhea. Explosive diarrhea? Hah! Very unlikely. At my age, I LIVE for anything to keep the old system moving.

And, of course, any time you’re prescribed antibiotics you always have to worry that you’re going to develop the dreaded yeast infection. Ugh. Nausea, diarrhea and a yeast infection. My immediate future was looking quite bleak, indeed.

A few hours after the very first double dose, I developed some severe gas pains. Like so bad I was bloated up to the size of a seven-month pregnancy with pains shooting all the way up to my shoulders and neck. Pretty uncomfortable. I even had to get off the internet and go lie down. Now THAT’S bad.

That’s when I decided that I was going to fight fire with fire and add some probiotics into the mix.

I had recently been reading about probiotics and learning about how our immune system “starts in the gut” and that the disruption of friendly flora can cause all kinds of problems that you might not relate to your intestinal tract.

In a perfect world, the “good” intestinal bacteria keeps your digestive system working the way it’s supposed to. These microbes help to complete the digestive process in the intestines and colon, and some produce vitamins. Other evidence suggests that, without these little friends slaving away in our digestive tract, our entire immune system will not function properly, lowering our resistance to harmful bugs.

An antibiotic, by design, will go into your system and annihilate ALL bacteria – the good along with the bad. And the destruction of the good bacteria is what causes the unpleasant side effects of the antibiotic.

Although it sounds counterintuitive to add the probiotics (won’t the antibiotic just destroy any probiotic that you add?), it has been found to be helpful to keep the good bacteria coming in while you are battling the bad bacteria. Although some of them will be destroyed (along with some of the bad), enough of it will remain to prevent your system from being totally wiped out by the antibiotics. Then when the next dose of antibiotics comes in to kill more of the bad, it also gets some of the good that remained – so you throw in some more. Just to stop them from being totally depleted.

But the timing is what’s important. Because I was taking the antibiotic every six hours, I added the probiotic every three hours (it should be taken no sooner than two hours after the antibiotic – and with food) during the day. You should also continue to take the probiotic at least twice a day for a week or so after you finish the antibiotic treatment.

And guess what? After the first miserable day, I never had another problem with side effects. I felt a little poopy over the weekend, after I had foolishly left my probiotics at work, but all was well when I started taking them again. And, even better news – no yeast infection. Yay!

You can buy an acidophilus supplement, like I did, or you can add back the friendly bacteria through foods like yogurt, sauerkraut and miso.

In yogurt, look for the words “live” or “active” cultures. This means it contains the good kind of live bacteria. Also, the seal “National Yogurt Association” means the yogurt contains at least 10 million bacteria cells per cup.

In a supplement, you want to find a probiotic that contains at least hundreds of millions of bacteria, but preferably more than one billion. And look for an enteric coating – this ensures the bacteria will get to your intestine without being destroyed by your stomach first. I hear the probiotics that require refrigeration are probably the best, but I didn’t want to have to deal with refrigeration. Lazy.

I am trying to be all adult-like and not be grossed out by the idea of eating bacteria. The lack of a yeast infection is making that a lot easier to handle. So the next time you have to take antibiotics, give it a try. It can't hurt you – and it will probably help. A lot.


Anonymous said...

great post, good to know! the few times I've had to take an antiobiotic the side effects were awful!!

Theresa said...

Thanks for the info! I don't like to take anything especially with the side effects that tag along! Have a great day!

Tammy Howard said...

Wow, great to know - filing that one away for future reference.

Glad you're feeling better!

Housewife Savant said...

I didn' tknow this, never heard of this, needed to learn this.
Being ladylike and a delicate flower n' all you KNOW I'm affected by antiobiotics, so this is useful information indeed.
I'm glad you can put your unfortunate dental experience behind you now J.
Blog on.

Jill of All Trades said...

I discovered the wonders of probiotics since I've been on antibiotics off and on since July. Great stuff.

Gin said...

Love me so probiotics. I can not handle dairy at all, but I actually have no problem at all with yogurts that have probiotics in them.

Patty said...

Excellent information, and presented so properly. :-)

I eat sauerkraut and real greek yogurt on a regular basis (but not together...yuk!) for this very reason. I didn't even know miso had probiotics, but it is also a fermented food, so that makes sense!

BetteJo said...

I've had IBS since I was a teenager and the only thing that really seems to normalize things is a regular routine if probiotics. I only take a capsule a day, maybe 2 if I know I've eaten something that may give me trouble. Excellent, natural way of helping your immune system!

MaryRC said...

we are an antibiotic hater family. my fridge is always stocked with yogurt. my son streps out very easily, any little bug turns into strep with him. so we try to be proactive. it so great to see i can get it in a capsule, once again my friend thank you... :-)

VRaz60 said...

Just wandering around and found your blog. This one was very interesting. I had a Dr. tell me a few years ago to add Acidophilus supplements to my array of other vitamins and minerals. I guess I was a trend setter, cuz back then they were very difficult to find.

Liz said...

I always eat yogurt when I take antibiotics.Thanks for the information

Anonymous said...

Very interesting.

I'll keep this info in mind.

Camevil said...

Probiotics saved me from a number of embarrassing conditions. I found that out after Bobzilla was sick last year, and the antibiotics were actually aggravating his food allergies. Since then, we keep an industrial sized bottle in the fridge. Recently, I've been taking them twice a day and that has really helped with the constipation I keep moaning about. At least I'm more regular.

Oh, and I read somewhere on one of those womanly holistic sites that direct doses of probiotics into the hoo ha actually is an excellent alternative treatment for those unfortunate enough to get hit with a yeast infection.

Great post. As always.

WhisperingWriter said...


I've always been tempted to get that yogurt with the "live" cultures but the whole "live" thing freaked me out a little bit. In my mind I picture disgusting bugs swimming around my yogurt. Obviously I know it's not the case but my dang imagination won't allow me to think otherwise.

Selaen said...

I could not live without my probiotics! Every time I forget to buy my yoghurts or simply can't afford to (yeah, sad. I know.), I can feel my stomach going "ARGH".. The only thing is if I don't have any in a wee while, I get awful gas when I do get back on them.. Charming, eh? :D


Heather said...

hhmm. interesting. i take (or should be taking) a probiotic to counter act all the stuff that gets wipped out with and acid reducer I take. I never realized it was a 'probiotic' and what else it could help do. Thanks for sharing this wealth on information. :)

Fruitful Vine2 said...

Interesting that you should post about this because I've just been prescribed a second round of antibiotics by the dentist. I've been concerned about putting all that stuff in my body. I guess I need to look for those probiotics when next I go to town. If only I had read your post last night then when I went to the dentist this morning I would have looked for them. Oh well. It's good to know this for next time. Thanks for sharing. You write on things that are so good to know. Great job!