The side-effects of antibiotics, especially on the gut, are much greater than previously thought, a new study finds.
Some of the side-effects of antibiotics are well-known, but the new research, published in the journal Gut, finds the damage could lead to problematic changes in food absorption, obesity, behaviour and stress (Morgun et al., 2015).
Since 40% of adults and fully 70% of children take at least one antibiotic each year, the issue is far-reaching.
Dr Andrey Morgun, the study’s first author, said:
“Just in the past decade a whole new universe has opened up about the far-reaching effects of antibiotic use, and now we’re exploring it.
The study of microbiota is just exploding.
Nothing we find would surprise me at this point.”
Side-effects of antibiotics
In the study, the researchers gave laboratory animals a mixture of four common drugs to study the side-effects of the antibiotics on the gut.
They found that the side-effects of antibiotics were much more wide-ranging than expected.
Dr Morgun explained:
“Prior to this most people thought antibiotics only depleted microbiota and diminished several important immune functions that take place in the gut.
Actually that’s only about one-third of the picture.
They also kill intestinal epithelium.
Destruction of the intestinal epithelium is important because this is the site of nutrient absorption, part of our immune system and it has other biological functions that play a role in human health.”
This finding may help to explain the growing list of side-effects of antibiotics.
Digestive problems are a relatively well-known side-effect of antibiotic use, but now research is finding links to:
- food absorption,
- immune function
- and sepsis.
One option for combating this problem is trying to find healthy probiotics which could offset the side-effects of antibiotics.
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