Adverse long term effects of antibiotics
The gut microbiome is home to trillions of microorganisms including 800+ different bacterial species and 7,000+ different strains. They interact with our cells and influence everything from hormone balance to changes to our DNA.
Our gut is where the party’s at. A majority of serotonin is made there and a majority of our immune system resides there. It’s where nutrients get absorbed and also where estrogen gets into perfect balance (thank you, estrobolome!).
So what happens to our diverse ecosystem after a course of antibiotics?
Unfortunately, the antibiotics decimate our ecosystem. Think of an explosive bomb. It doesn’t kill everything, but it sure kills a lot of both the good and the bad bacteria.
It also disrupts the balance that once was. This may lead to disruptions in serotonin production, immune system function, malabsorption of nutrients, diarrhea, and hormone imbalances.
It takes time for the gut to repopulate it’s ecosystem and sometimes, the bad bacteria grows back faster than the good ones. Some bad bacteria that DO survive can mutate and become resistant to that class of antibiotics, also known as antimicrobial resistance. Or natural selection working against us.
One study found that gut species composition was STILL significantly altered after 18 months of antibiotic treatment and some disturbances persisted even after 2 years. For a common H. pylori triple therapy treatment, fecal microbiota were affected up to 4 YEARS post-treatment. Talk about a long term side effect.
Antibiotics can be a life saving intervention, but they’re also over prescribed or used inappropriately. There’s many illnesses that are caused by viruses (not bacteria) and most are self limiting (meaning your immune system has a fighting chance). Always talk with your healthcare provider and weigh the risks and benefits together.
There are many things that can disrupt our gut health and cause leaky gut but the great news is that there’s also ways to help support it. Read about it here.