Side effects of some antibiotics:
1. Diarrhoea: Diarrhoea can be severe at times leading to death, if antibiotics are not discontinued. Diarrhoea can be due to many antibiotics such as amoxycillin, cephalexin, cefuroxime, clindamycin. If severe diarrhoea develops when a patient is on an antibiotic, the drug should be discontinued and the doctor should be consulted.
2. Nausea and vomiting: Erythromycin, metronidazole and nitrofurantoin are commonly used antibiotics which can give rise to nausea and vomiting.
3. Rashes: Many antibiotics such as amoxicillin can give rise to skin rashes.
4. Fever: Patients who are on antibiotics can develop fever as a reaction to the drug.
5. Joint pain and swelling; Some antibiotics can give rise to joint pain and swelling.
6. Allergic reaction: Some patients can be allergic to certain antibiotics such as penicillin.
Some of these reactions can me mild like rashes whereas in others they could be fatal. It is important to keep a record of your allergies and mention it to the doctor when you go for treatment.
7. Damage to kidneys: Some antibiotics such as gentamicin and vancomycin can damage your kidneys if taken for a long period. Though in other countries blood levels of the drugs can be monitored regularly, this facility is not freely available in Sri Lanka. This makes it even more difficult to adjust the dose of the drug to suit the patient.
8. Hearing impairment: Drugs such as gentamicin can affect your ears and make you deaf, if given in inappropriate doses for a long period.
9. Hepatitis: Isoniazid which is used to treat Tuberculosis can give rise to hepatitis.
10. Reduced blood cells: Some antibiotics can affect the cells in the blood. White cells which are necessary for immunity can be reduced leading the patients more prone to infections.
11. Effects on the nervous system: Brain and nerves can get affected by some antibiotics.
Important message: Do not use antibiotics unnecessarily.
Dr Kushlani Jayatilleke, MBBS, Dip Med Micro, MD