Risks Of Overusing Antacids And Antibiotics

Do you know that excessive use of antibiotics and antacids can be detrimental to your health and your child’s? Read about their side effects and why we should consider their intake seriously.

By Luke Coutinho

Risks Of Overusing Antacids And Antibiotics
Avoid overusing or misusing medicine

Medicine, as a practice of science, diagnoses, makes prognosis, treats and prevents diseases. Spread across various branches such as traditional, folk, oriental, modern and alternate, it aims at curing and healing the body of infection and diseases.

Medication are substances, that when consumed or absorbed by the body cause physiological reactions and changes in order to treat or prevent diseases or symptoms of diseases.

Medication can be of different types — antibiotic, antifungal, antacid, etc., to treat the respective type of infection.

Some mild forms of medicine, like antacids, can be purchased over the counter at a medical shop. Whereas some can only be bought with your doctor’s prescription.

Medication is primarily used to treat diseases. However, many a time, apart from its intended function, medication can affect the body adversely. Overuse or wrong usage of medication, especially antibiotics, causes the body to become more resistant in fighting infection, thus lessening the efficacy of the specific drug.

The World Health Organization (WHO) released a fact sheet on antibiotics resistance in 2018. The report says, “Antibiotic resistance is rising to dangerously high levels in all parts of the world. New resistance mechanisms are emerging and spreading globally, threatening our ability to treat common infectious diseases. A growing list of infections — such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, blood poisoning, gonorrhoea, and foodborne diseases — are becoming harder, and sometimes impossible, to treat as antibiotics become less effective.”

So, you see, medication can be a double-edged sword that must be wielded with due caution — it brings with it, immense benefits as well as disadvantages if not taken properly.

Let’s find out more about antibiotics and antacids, and their respective side effects.

What are antibiotics?

Antibiotics are a type of medication used to treat a variety of infection; but, they are effective only against bacterial infections. There are over 100 types of antibiotics available in the market today. Of these, penicillin is the first and the most popular form of antibiotic.

Fundamentally, antibiotics contain antimicrobial agents that kill and inhibit the growth of bacteria in order to treat a disease or infection. Certain antibiotics work with certain types of bacteria. Hence, it is important to find out the type of bacteria causing the infection and to use the specific type of antibiotic containing the chemicals that can inhibit the growth of that bacteria. Only then can the infection be treated.

Side effects of antibiotics

Antibiotics are like soldiers who have been given a ‘shoot to kill’ order. They are unable to differentiate between good bacteria, which aid digestion and maintain a healthy gut, and bad bacteria, which cause the infection. So, they kill both. Good bacteria are necessary for a healthy body as they promote better absorption of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. And, antibiotics are guilty of killing these much-needed good bacteria.

Other common side effects of antibiotics include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, dizziness, muscle aches and pains.

What can you do?

  • Take antibiotics only if prescribed by the doctor. It is better not to resort to self-medication.
  • Also, follow the course of antibiotics strictly as advised by the doctor – in terms of dosage and number of days to take it.
  • Further, to counter the loss of good bacteria, supplement your diet with probiotics and vitamin B-complex so that the growth of beneficial bacteria and the absorption of vitamins by the system increases. You can also eat probiotic foods to regain the gut flora.

What are antacids?

Antacids are a type of medication used to counterbalance the presence of acid in the stomach. They are used to relieve symptoms like heartburn and indigestion.

Antacids contain alkali ingredients like calcium, magnesium or aluminium, which are used to counter the acid in the stomach, thereby providing relief from symptoms like a burning sensation in the chest and bitter taste in the mouth.

Side effects of antacids

  • Antacids contain magnesium, excess of which can cause diarrhoea.
  • Calcium, used in antacids to counter the side effect of diarrhoea, can cause constipation. When taken for a longer duration or in excess, calcium can cause your body to produce less acid. This condition is known as alkalosis.
  • Also, excess consumption of antacid leads to the body developing resistance against it.
  • Dependence on antacids can make you more acidic in nature as we don't allow the food to digest the right way.
  • It can also cause the undigested food to tear through the lining of the gut into the bloodstream, which could flare up the immune system and lead to autoimmune disorders.

Note: The side effects of any drug may or may not be related to factors like age, race, ethnicity, weight, sex and overall health.

How should we take medication?

Follow the doctor’s advice: Use medication as prescribed by the doctor.

Take medication the right way: Take medication according to the instructions given, for them to have the desired effect. Some are supposed to be taken before meals, some after and some on an empty stomach. Taking them in any other way than the advised manner may reduce the effectiveness of the pills.

Stick to the prescribed dosage and course: Always stick to the medicine or drugs prescribed by your doctor to treat your ailment. The dosage and the required course of medication must be followed religiously. You may feel better after just a few doses, but that doesn't mean you can stop the remaining dosage midway through the course. This may not lead to complete elimination of infection; it may even result in re-infection.

That being said, our body is capable of repairing and taking care of itself, if we maintain a healthy lifestyle. Medication is only meant to rectify, cure and better support the functions of the body. And, too much dependency on medication can lead to adverse health conditions. So, use pills cautiously and avoid making the intake of medication a habit. On a closing note, I advise you all to please consult a doctor or specialist before taking any kind of medication. Better safe than sorry!

The author, Luke Coutinho is Adviser of Integrative Lifestyle and Nutrition at Purenutrition.me

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