Be Proactive Before Antibiotics Make You Sick to Your Stomach

Lisa heard a story recently about a usually healthy, active senior who was prescribed the antibiotic, Flagyl.  It was needed to treat an anaerobic infection (meaning an internal infection in a part of the body not exposed to air.)  The infection, known as C. diff (Clostridium difficile,) presents itself in the intestines.  This person’s infection was acquired while being hospitalized for another condition entirely, requiring treatment with Flagyl, a powerful antibiotic.

Long ago Lisa learned firsthand, and with much pain, the havoc a strong antibiotic can cause in one’s digestive tract.  While killing the “bad” bacteria, antibiotics do not discriminate.  They kill “good” bacteria as well.  Good bacteria resides in our healthy intestines where it assists in the routine digestion of food.  Take it away, and the end result is often irregular bowel movements and cramps so intense that the resulting pain can require yet another drug for pain control.  (Seems like if people didn’t acquire new infections while hospitalized we’d all be in the clear, but hospitals can be dangerous places because they can house a lot of germs.  Personally, I’m determined to stay away from all hospitals to the best of my ability by healthy, active living.)

Unfortunately, this patient needed morphine, a powerful pain medication.  This is what the treating doctor prescribed to relieve severe stomach cramps (caused by the absence of healthy bacteria.)  While the morphine took care of the pain, severe weakness, as well as disorientation, presented as problematic side effects for the senior.  It’s easy to see why — especially with seniors —  once something goes wrong medically, it’s very easy to set off a chain of events that can result in one’s body being severely compromised.  Discharging a weak patient is a dangerous, not to mention an expensive thing, as necessary physical and occupational rehabilitation drives healthcare costs higher.  And all because of a problem a patient was never hospitalized for initially.

You don’t have to be a medical professional to understand the benefits of probiotics (“good” bacteria.)  They can be found in capsulated form, but also in something available at little cost:  plain yogurt.  Yogurt contains various species of Lactobacillus acidophilus (aka L. acidophilus.)  Be certain to check the yogurt container label, as not all brands of yogurt contain live active cultures, which is what you need to cultivate healthy digestion, especially if taking an antibiotic.

This proactive care seems obvious to me, but apparently not to most physicians.  Logic says when prescribing a patient an antibiotic for an infection, a probiotic should also be included.  Not only will it guarantee the patient physical intestinal comfort, but aid in avoiding medical complications that only add to the escalating cost of medical complications.  Lisa’s clients take refrigerated L. acidophilus capsules when prescribed antibiotics.  She’ll discuss this with a client’s doctor once an antibiotic is ordered.  No doctor has ever disagreed with her on this matter.   More importantly, no complications from Lisa’s clients’ antibiotic use have ever resulted.

Please remember these important tips:  Plain yogurt is good for you, whether or not you’re taking an antibiotic.  I mix mine with fresh fruit and have it every morning.  If your physician prescribes an antibiotic for you, ask about supplementing it with a refrigerated probiotic.  Even the right type of yogurt containing Lactobacillus acidophilus will do.  You will likely save yourself digestive disruption and discomfort, at a minimum.  At most, you will avoid the need to take pain medication.  Further weakening the body and possibly becoming disoriented is something all patients can live without, especially seniors.  These are common side effects of pain medication intake.  You don’t want these complications.  And our healthcare system cannot afford them.

Arm yourself with simple knowledge like this, and you will be serving as your own healthcare advocate in a significant way.  Who can argue with better quality of life for all of us, as well as savings in costs due to healthcare complications?  Be smart.  Be proactive.

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