Kerstin Alischoewski, MD, is board certified in Infectious Diseases and Internal Medicine.
Disclaimer: This is not intended to be medical advice. Please consult your physician for more information.
What is antibiotic associated diarrhea?
Diarrhea describes runny or watery bowel movements that occur three or more times a day. Antibiotic associated diarrhea frequently occurs due to an infection with an organism called C. difficile.
Who should suspect antibiotic associated diarrhea?
Antibiotic associated diarrhea should be suspected any time a person has developed diarrhea after taking antibiotics. That can occur within a few days after starting antibiotics. Or even a few weeks after the antibiotics have been stopped.
When should I ask my doctor about antibiotic associated diarrhea?
Any time you develop nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever or lower abdominal pain after taking antibiotics you should talk to your doctor. Other symptoms to look for include loss of appetite and belly pain.
How does antibiotic associated diarrhea develop?
Every human being has bacteria in their gut. These bacteria are important for many functions of the gut. Some bacteria help with the provision of vitamins to the body. Antibiotics affect the bacteria in the gut. Some of the bacteria that are normally present in a healthy person die. And other bacteria that are normally not present begin to grow. This can lead to antibiotic associated diarrhea.
Are there other reasons for diarrhea related to taking an antibiotic?
Another possible reason for antibiotic associated diarrhea can be a simple side effect of the antibiotic. This can occur without a C. difficult infection.
What tests are needed to evaluate antibiotic associated diarrhea?
Your doctor may ask for a stool sample to test for an infection called C. difficile. He may prescribe another antibiotic to target C. difficile infection. Ask your doctor whether you should be tested for C. difficile infection.
Can I do anything on my own to get better?
Drink a lot of liquids that have water, salt and sugar. Try to eat a little potatoes, rice, oatmeal, crackers, bananas or soup.