Do Antibiotics Weaken Your Immune System?

How do antibiotics impact your immune system? Find out what you should know…

There has been a lot of discussion in recent months about how to strengthen the immune system and stay healthy in the midst of a global pandemic. While there are many things you can do to support your body’s natural immune response and improve your overall health, it is also important to make sure to avoid things that may deplete or depress your immune system.

Stress is one of the most well-known immune system inhibitors, along with the consumption of sugar. (The holiday season is a common cause of both, so it’s no wonder so many of us find ourselves fighting off illness this time of year!)

However, if you do end up getting sick, too often you may be prescribed an antibiotic, even though antibiotics are not effective against viruses. Overuse of antibiotics can lead to dangerous antibiotic resistance, but that’s not the only issue with these common drugs…

Some evidence has found that antibiotics may actually weaken your natural immune system, making it more likely for you to catch another illness following your course of antibiotics, and leading to a vicious cycle of sickness!

Here’s more about how antibiotics affect the immune system, according to MindBodyGreen.com:

Unnecessary use of antibiotics, as well as over-the-counter drugs, may disrupt gut health. “Though in the right context, these drugs can be good for our health,” internal medicine doctor Austin Perlmutter, M.D., says, “over time, and when used inappropriately, they appear to disrupt the health of the microbiome and gut barrier.”

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“In fact, antibiotic-induced microbiota alterations can remain after long periods of time, spanning months and even years,” one study says. This change in the gut microbiome may end up affecting immunity.

According to functional medicine doctor Wendie Trubow, M.D., 70 to 80% of our immune system is actually found in the gut. This means that the gut and the immune system are in constant communication.

“Anything that alters the normal state of the gut and its flora can impact its function,” she says, “and antibiotics kill off a wide swath of the microbiome.”

This does not mean that you should never take antibiotics, of course, which can be quite helpful in combating bacterial infections. However, it does mean that you should use them judiciously. If your doctor is prescribing an antibiotic, be sure you know why and what it is for. Remember that antibiotics do not impact viral infections, so ask plenty of questions before taking one and make sure there is a very good reason to do so! You could also try a natural antibiotic alternative instead.

If you do have a bacterial infection (such as a UTI, bacterial pneumonia, or strep throat), complete your prescribed course of antibiotics, and then take immediate steps to begin rebuilding your microbiome and improving your gut health in order to replenish your immune system as soon as possible.

 

 

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