Side effects of antibiotics: What are they and how to manage them?


Prescription drugs called antibiotics can be prescribed to treat bacteria-related infections. The most common infections that antibiotics are used to treat include pneumonia, bronchitis and urinary tract infections.

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Antibiotics kill the bacteria that is causing the infection or stop the bacteria growing and multiplying.

Antibiotics are only effective in treating bacterial infections. They are not effective for viruses.

  • Common cold
  • Runny nose

Most people have bronchitis and coughs.

There are many types of antibiotics. Side effects are common with these classes and they affect both men and women in the same way. Some side effects may be more common with some antibiotics than others.

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Continue reading to find out about side effects and how to treat them. Also, which antibiotics are most likely to cause them.

  • More common side effects
  • Stomach upset
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • Cramps
  • diarrhea

Cephalosporins and penicillins as well as macrolide antibiotics can cause stomach upsets more than other antibiotics.

What should you do?

Ask your pharmacist or doctor if you can take your antibiotic with food. Certain antibiotics, such as Doryx and amoxicillin (Doryx), can cause stomach side effects.

This approach is not applicable to all antibiotics. Tetracycline and other antibiotics must be taken with an empty stomach.

Talk to your doctor about how to take your medication and other options to ease stomach side effects.

When should you call your doctor?

Most mild diarrhea will disappear once you stop taking the medication. If the diarrhea is severe, however, you may need to consult a doctor.

  • Cramping and abdominal pain
  • Fièvre
  • nausea
  • Mucus or blood in your stool

An overgrowth of bacteria in the intestines can cause these symptoms. If you experience these symptoms, consult your doctor immediately.


Your body may become more sensitive to light if you are taking an antibiotic such as Tetracycline. This can make the light appear brighter in your eyes. This can make your skin more susceptible to sunburn. After you have finished taking the antibiotic, your photosensitivity should disappear.

What should you do?

Take precautions if you are going to be outside in the sun. Wear sunscreen that provides UVA and UVB protection and reapply sunscreen according to the instructions on the label. Protective clothing and accessories such as sunglasses and a hat are also recommended.


Many medications can cause fevers, including antibiotics. An allergic reaction to medication, or as a side effect, can cause a fever. Drug fevers can be caused by any antibiotic. However, they are more common in the following:

  • Beta-lactams
  • Cephalexin
  • Minocycline
  • Sulfonamides

What should you do?

A fever that you have developed while taking an antibiotic will usually go away by itself. If your fever persists for more than 24 hours, consult your pharmacist or doctor about prescription pain relievers like acetaminophen or Motrin.

When should you call your doctor?

Call 911 immediately if you experience trouble breathing or a fever higher than 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius).

Vaginal yeast infection

Antibiotics reduce the amount of lactobacillus (a helpful bacteria) in the vagina. This “good bacteria,” helps to keep Candida, a naturally occurring fungus, under control. A yeast infection can occur when this natural balance is tilted in favor of Candida growth.

These are the symptoms:

  • Vaginal itching
  • Burning during sex or urination
  • The vaginal swelling
  • soreness
  • pain during sex
  • redness
  • Rash

Another sign that you may have a yeast infection is a whitish-gray or clumpy vaginal discharge. This can sometimes look like cottage cheese.

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What should you do?

Your doctor might prescribe an oral tablet, suppository or vaginal antifungal cream for simple yeast infections. Examples include:

  • Butoconazole
  • Clotrimazole
  • Miconazole
  • Terconazole
  • Fluconazole

Many creams, ointments and suppositories can be purchased without a prescription. Your doctor might prescribe a longer-term medication for severe or complex yeast infections. Your sexual partner could also be suffering from a yeast infection if the infection recurs. If you suspect that you have a yeast infection, condoms should be used when you are having sex.

Serious side effects

Although they are rare, serious side effects of antibiotics can still occur. These are some of the most serious side effects:

Allergy reactions

All medications, including antibiotics, can cause allergic reactions. While some allergic reactions are mild, others can be severe and require medical attention.

You may experience symptoms if you are allergic to a particular antibiotic. You may experience trouble breathing, hives, swelling of the throat and tongue, as well as difficulty swallowing.

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When should you call your doctor?

Stop taking the drug if you experience hives. Call your doctor. Stop taking the drug if you experience swelling or difficulty breathing. Call 911 immediately.