12 Side Effects When Using Antibiotics in the Long Term

Antibiotics are medications used for the treatment of bacterial infections. But long-term use can cause side effects such as digestive problem, resistance, etc.

Antibiotics are medications commonly prescribed by doctors for the treatment of various illnesses. These medications can be either synthesized in the laboratory or produced naturally by other microorganisms. Antibiotics work by inhibiting the growth of bacteria. They are usually prescribed for 7 to 14 days. However, in certain cases, especially in long-term illnesses a prolonged use of antibiotics is recommended, which is normally associated with various side effects. For this reason, it is very important for your healthcare provider to weigh the cons when it comes to side effects of long-term use, as well as the pros.

Side Effects of Long-Term Antibiotic Use

1. Antibiotics Can Lead to Digestive Problems

Many patients who receive a treatment with antibiotics develop digestive problems such as nausea, vomiting, indigestion, bloating, or diarrhea. Another common side effect of long-term antibiotic use is a loss of appetite. Abdominal pain is also possible. In general, these side effects are mild to moderate and tend to resolve on their own. However, in severe cases of digestive problems caused by the long-term use of antibiotics, you should seek professional medical help.

2. Antibiotics Can Have an Adverse Impact on Immunity

As mentioned, antibiotics destroy not only the bad bacteria but also the good bacteria within the human body. This means, that antibiotics, especially those taken for a long period of time have a negative impact on the normal flora of the gut. The immune system is known to rely heavily on the balance between the good and bad bacteria. The longer you take antibiotics, the greater is the possibility of developing an infection as the normal gut flora gets destroyed.

3. Antibiotics Can Increase the Risk of Metabolic Disorders

The normal gut flora plays an important role in the overall health. One of the side effects of long-term antibiotic use is the destroying of normal gut flora, which plays a critical role in the development of metabolic disorders and inflammatory diseases. Prolonged exposure to antibiotics is related to diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity, etc.

4. Antibiotics Increase the Risk of Type 1 Diabetes

The number of patients being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes is growing every day worldwide. Researchers believe that for this higher risk of type 1 diabetes, there is a connection between the prolonged use of antibiotics and the development of diabetes, an autoimmune disease.

5. Antibiotics Can Lead to Vaginal Yeast Infections

Antibiotics not only interfere with the normal flora of the gastrointestinal system, but they also interfere with the normal bacterial flora of the vagina. One of the side effects of long-term antibiotic use is the development of vaginal yeast infections.

6. Antibiotics Can Lead to Mouth Sores, Blisters, and Ulcers

A prolonged use of antibiotics can lead to mouth sores, blisters and mouth ulcers due to candidiasis or oral thrush.

7. Antibiotics Can Lead to Tooth Discoloration

One of the side effects of antibiotic use is tooth discoloration, especially after using tetracycline. This is especially true when tetracycline is used in childhood, in infants and children under the age of 8 years old, during the time when teeth are developing. This tooth discoloration is permanent and intrinsic. Tetracycline use during pregnancy can even affect the growing baby inside the uterus, mostly during the second half of the pregnancy. If tetracycline is used at other times, tooth discoloration is reversible, superficial and extrinsic.

8. Antibiotics Can Lead to Allergies

Allergic reactions to antibiotics are common. Penicillin and cephalosporins are the ones that mostly cause allergic reactions, ranging from mild, moderate and even life- threatening ones such as anaphylactic shock. If you have a severe allergic reaction to an antibiotic you should seek emergency medical help. However, for most people, reactions to antibiotics are mild to moderate with the following signs and symptoms

  • skin rash
  • hives
  • wheezing
  • coughing
  • a sensation of tightness in the throat

9. Antibiotics Can Lead to Resistance

If you use antibiotics for a long period of time, you can easily develop a resistance, which means that a certain antibiotic does no longer work against a certain bacteria. This is one of the serious side effects of long-term antibiotic use. The more antibiotics you use and for the longer you use them, the greater is the chance of developing antibiotic resistance. This will make certain infections very difficult to treat.

10. Antibiotics Can Cause Specific Side Effects to You

Before using antibiotics for the treatment of bacterial infections, make sure to read the labels. Certain antibiotics can lead to certain side effects which you may experience or not. For example, if you are taking tetracycline, you might develop an increased sensitivity to light. On the other hand, if you are taking fluoroquinolones you might develop tendinopathy. For this reason, you should consult with your healthcare provider first, so your doctor can determine if you can use a certain antibiotic or not. Also, don’t forget to mention any medications that you might be using, to prevent drug interactions.

11. Antibiotics Can Lead to Obesity

The more antibiotics you use for the treatment of various illnesses, the higher the risk of being obese. This is especially true if antibiotics are consumed in large quantities during childhood.

12. Antibiotics Are Related with Asthma

As mentioned, antibiotics work by inhibiting the growth of bacteria in the human body, including the helicobacter. Helicobacter is one of the most unwanted bacteria which can lower the immune system. However, helicobacter also reduces the chances of developing asthma by 30%.


Antibiotics are medications that we have all used every now and then for the treatment of various health problems. However, before using antibiotics for a prolonged period of time, consult with your healthcare provider first.

Make sure to take antibiotics only for the treatment of bacterial infections. Don’t use antibiotics, for the treatment of viral infections. Let milder illnesses resolve on their own without any medications. This way you will prevent the development of antibiotic resistance.

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