Antibiotic Side Effects: Diarrhea

Antibiotic-associated diarrhea explains frequent, watery bowel movements (diarrhea) that happen in response to medications utilized to treat bacterial infections (prescription antibiotics).

Frequently, antibiotic-associated diarrhea is moderate and clears up shortly after you stop taking the antibiotic. But sometimes, antibiotic-associated diarrhea results in colitis, an inflammation of your colon, or a more severe form of colitis called pseudomembranous colitis. Both can cause abdominal pain, fever and bloody diarrhea.

Moderate antibiotic-associated diarrhea might not require treatment. More major antibiotic-associated diarrhea might require stopping or switching antibiotic medications.


Antibiotic-associated diarrhea can cause symptoms and signs that range from mild to severe.

Common symptoms and signs

For many people, antibiotic-associated diarrhea causes moderate signs and symptoms, such as:

  • Loose stools
  • More-frequent defecation

Antibiotic-associated diarrhea is most likely to begin about a week after you start the antibiotic therapy. Sometimes, however, diarrhea and other symptoms might not stand for days or even weeks after you’ve completed antibiotic treatment.

More-serious signs and symptoms

Some individuals experience a more major form of antibiotic-associated diarrhea. When the overgrowth of hazardous bacteria is severe, you might have signs and symptoms of colitis or pseudomembranous colitis, such as:

  • Frequent, watery diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Fever
  • Mucus in your stool
  • Bloody stools
  • Queasiness
  • Loss of cravings

When to see a doctor

Call your doctor right away if you experience signs and symptoms of severe antibiotic-associated diarrhea. These symptoms and signs prevail to a number of conditions, so your doctor might advise tests to figure out the cause.


Antibiotic side effects occur when antibacterial medications (antibiotics) upset the balance of great and bad bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract.

The antibiotics more than likely to cause diarrhea

Almost all prescription antibiotics can cause antibiotic-associated diarrhea, colitis or pseudomembranous colitis. The prescription antibiotics most commonly connected to antibiotic-associated diarrhea consist of:

  • Cephalosporins, such as cefixime (Suprax) and cefpodoxime
  • Clindamycin (Cleocin).
  • Penicillins, such as amoxicillin (Amoxil, Larotid, others) and ampicillin.
  • Fluoroquinolones, such as ciprofloxacin (Cipro) and levofloxacin (Levaquin).

How prescription antibiotics cause diarrhea

Your digestive tract is a complex ecosystem that’s home to countless microorganisms (digestive tract plants), consisting of numerous types of bacteria. A lot of these bacteria are beneficial, performing important functions.

However a few of the bacteria that usually occupy your intestinal tract are possibly unsafe. These hazardous bacteria are generally kept in check by useful bacteria unless the delicate balance in between the two is disturbed by disease, medications or other factors.

Prescription antibiotics can be specifically disruptive to intestinal flora due to the fact that they destroy advantageous bacteria together with harmful ones. Often, without sufficient “excellent” microorganisms, “bad” bacteria that are resistant to the antibiotic you received grow out of control, producing toxins that can damage the bowel wall and trigger swelling.

Clostridium difficile causes most major antibiotic-associated diarrhea.

The virus accountable for practically all cases of pseudomembranous colitis and lots of instances of severe antibiotic-associated diarrhea is C. difficile. Most people acquire a C. difficile infection during a stay in a medical facility or retirement home after they’ve gotten antibiotics.

Risk factors

Antibiotic-associated diarrhea can happen in anybody who undergoes antibiotic treatment. But you’re more likely to establish antibiotic-associated diarrhea if you:

  • Have had antibiotic-associated diarrhea in the past, have taken antibiotic medications for an extended amount of time or are taking more than one antibiotic medication.
  • Are age 65 or older.
  • Have had surgery on your digestive tract.
  • Have just recently stayed in a healthcare facility or nursing home.
  • Have a major underlying disease influencing your intestinal tracts, such as inflammatory bowel disease,
  • Crohn’s disease or celiac disease.

Antibiotic Side Effects and Diarrhea

The most severe kind of diarrhea after prescribed antibiotic, pseudomembranous colitis, can seldom cause deadly complications, foring example:

  • Dehydration. Severe diarrhea can lead to excessive loss of fluids and electrolytes– essential compounds such as salt and potassium. Extreme fluid loss can cause severe problems. Symptoms and signs of dehydration include a very dry mouth, intense thirst, little or no urination, and extreme weakness.
  • A hole in your bowel (bowel perforation). Substantial damage to the lining of your big intestine can lead to a perforation in the wall of your intestine, requiring surgery to replace the hole.
  • Poisonous megacolon. In this condition, your colon becomes unable to eliminate gas and stool, causing it to end up being significantly distended (megacolon). Symptoms and signs of poisonous megacolon include abdominal pain and swelling, fever, and weak point. Harmful megacolon is a serious issue that can lead to infection or a burst colon. Hazardous megacolon needs aggressive treatment, usually with medications or perhaps surgery.
    Death. Severe issues caused by antibiotic-associated diarrhea can result in death.

Tests and medical diagnosis

To detect antibiotic-associated diarrhea, your doctor might:

Ask concerns about your health history. Expect your doctor to ask about your medical history, consisting of whether you’ve had current hospitalizations or antibiotic treatments.
Examine a stool sample. If your symptoms are severe, you may be asked to supply samples of your stool. Stool samples can be tested in a lab to identify which bacteria are triggering your antibiotic-associated diarrhea. This can assist your doctor choose the appropriate treatment.

Treatments and drugs

Treatment for antibiotic-associated diarrhea depends on the seriousness of your signs and symptoms.

Treatments to cope with mild antibiotic-associated diarrhea.

If you have moderate diarrhea, your symptoms might clear up within a few days after your antibiotic treatment ends. In many cases your doctor might advise you to stop your antibiotic therapy up until your diarrhea subsides. In the meantime, your doctor may suggest home care techniques to help you handle diarrhea till it resolves by itself.

Treatment to combat harmful bacteria in severe antibiotic-associated diarrhea.

If you experience colitis or pseudomembranous colitis, your doctor may prescribed antibiotics to eliminate the harmful bacteria causing your antibiotic-associated diarrhea. For many people, this strategy will clear up signs and symptoms. For those with pseudomembranous colitis, diarrhea symptoms may return and need repeated treatment.

Home remedies for Diarrhea after Antibiotic

To cope with diarrhea, try to:

  • Consume plenty of fluids. Water is best, however fluids with added sodium and potassium (electrolytes) may be beneficial too. Try drinking broth or thinned down fruit juice. Avoid beverages that are high in sugar or include alcohol or caffeine, such as coffee, tea and sodas, which might intensify your symptoms.
  • Select soft, easy-to-digest foods. These include applesauce, bananas and rice. Prevent high-fiber foods such as beans, nuts and vegetables. If you feel like your symptoms are improving, slowly add high-fiber foods back to your diet.
  • Take probiotics. Probiotics are organisms, such as bacteria and yeast, that can help restore a healthy balance to the intestinal tract by enhancing the level of excellent bacteria to help defeat the dangerous bacteria. Probiotics are offered in pill or liquid kind and are likewise contributed to some foods, such as certain brands of yogurt.
    Studies verify that some probiotics, foring example Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Saccharomyces boulardii, utilized in combination with antibiotics might be helpful as a treatment for antibiotic-associated diarrhea. Nevertheless, more research is had to better understand which pressures of bacteria are most valuable or what dosages are searchinged for.
  • Attempt consuming numerous small meals, rather than a couple of large meals. Area meals throughout the day rather of eating two or 3 large ones.
  • Avoid irritating foods. Keep away from spicy, fatty or fried foods and other foods that make your symptoms even worse.
  • Inquire about anti-diarrheal medications. Sometimes of moderate antibiotic-associated diarrhea, your doctor may suggest anti-diarrhea medications, such as loperamide (Imodium A-D). However check with your doctor first prior to taking anti-diarrheal medications since they can hinder your body’s ability to remove contaminants and result in severe problems.


To help avoid antibiotic-associated diarrhea, try to:

  • Take antibiotics just when essential. Limit your antibiotic usage and don’t utilize antibiotics unless you and your doctor feel they’re absolutely required. For instance, antibiotics can deal with bacterial infections, however they will not help viral infections, such as colds and flu.
  • Ask caregivers to clean their hands. If you’re hospitalized, ask each person you can be found in contact with to wash his or her hands prior to touching you. This might lower the danger that you’ll can be found in contact with C. difficile, the bacterium that can cause major antibiotic-associated diarrhea.
    Inform your doctor if you’ve experienced antibiotic-associated diarrhea in the past. Having antibiotic-associated diarrhea when enhances the chance that antibiotics may cause that same response again. Your doctor may choose an antibiotic that is less likely to cause diarrhea.
  • Think about probiotics if you’ve had antibiotic-associated diarrhea in the past. Probiotics are concentrated supplements of beneficial organisms, such as bacteria and yeast, that you take in pill or liquid form. Some yogurts and other foods likewise consist of probiotics.
    Some proof recommends that taking probiotics throughout antibiotic treatment might lower the threat of diarrhea in individuals who’ve had actually antibiotic-associated diarrhea caused by C. difficile in the past. Some research studies haven’t discovered probiotics to be useful. Ask your doctor about whether probiotics might assist you.


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