Did Antibiotics Cause My IBS?

I wrote an article a while back discussing my theory on how I contracted irritable bowel syndrome. I claimed that it is possible that I am a victim of post-infectious IBS, assuming my food poisoning experience in 2009 was the start of it all. In that article, I explained how horrible the food poisoning experience was, and that I later learned I’d developed a bacterial infection due to the overgrowth of a nasty bacteria called Helicobacter Pylori. At the time, my doctor prescribed antibiotics for me to take to get rid of the infection, which I then followed those instructions without any hesitation because I trusted the doctor’s professional advice. However, after doing more research on antibiotics and hearing theories from other IBS sufferers, I have come to yet another theory that it is quite possible that the antibiotics I took in the past could have something to do with the severity of my condition today. Let me explain why I have come to this conclusion…

Microbiome and dysbiosis

First off, it is important to note that our microbiomes are responsible for the proper functioning of our body and overall health, especially the bacterial colonies located in our gastrointestinal tract. Microbial Ecology in Health and Disease states that, “In particular, the bacterial species residing within the mucus layer of the colon, either through direct contact with host cells, or through indirect communication via bacterial metabolites, may influence whether host cellular homeostasis is maintained or whether inflammatory mechanisms are triggered.”1 In other words, the bacteria in your gut, whether good or bad, determines if you will suffer from inflammation or experience a healthy gut for the moment, assuming there is a natural balance in your microbiome.

Antibiotics are used to treat and/or destroy bacterial infections. In the past, that was the basic and only understanding I had about this kind of medication. When I was given antibiotics to treat my bacterial infection, I never thought about how it actually worked or the potential damages and side effects it could have caused. What I later learned about antibiotics is that they don’t only kill or treat the bad bacteria in your system, but they also negatively affect the good bacteria as well.2 Thus, the natural order of the bacteria in your gut becomes unbalanced (also known as dysbiosis), and when there is an unbalance, a world of problems can arise.

Can antibiotics lead to intestinal disorders?

There have been a number of research studies published that provide evidence that dysbiosis of the gut can lead to intestinal disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome and celiac disease. According to the World Class Journal of Gastroenterology, “In the last decade, the gut microbiota has provided support to the concept that a disturbed intestinal ecology could promote development and maintenance of symptoms in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)” and “probiotics appear (to be) an attractive option in terms of both efficacy and safety, while prebiotics, synbiotics and antibiotics still need formation.”3 Even though there isn’t enough conclusive evidence that proves antibiotics causes IBS, one can infer that because antibiotics kill off some of the good bacteria as well as the bad, thus resulting in dysbiosis, it has the potential to make us susceptible to other infections and intestinal disorders. In hindsight, many of us were taught to believe that antibiotics was supposed to do the opposite.

I’m not an expert in the medical field, nor do I claim to be. I’m also neither discrediting medical professionals nor certain antibiotics that have been proven time and time again to help patients. Nevertheless, through my own experience and by doing more research, more questions are being raised for me in terms of the actual source of my illness. Questions like: does taking antibiotics over any period of time eventually lead to IBS, or other health-concerning issues? If taking synthetic antibiotics can also damage the good bacteria in your gut, then why is it still being used to treat patients, and why not a safer alternative? When we’re given these as prescriptions, do we know the true motive behind it? Is it to really help us or make money off of big pharma or insurance companies? How knowledgeable are the doctors in the drugs they prescribe? Do they really have my best interest at heart?

The core of all these questions boils down to whether or not my health is, or ever was, taken seriously by medical experts. Unfortunately, only recently has there been studies showing that antibiotics actually do have a negative long-term effect. I just think it sucks that the “experts” thought they were safe enough to use to begin with, knowing that antibiotics are not targeted drugs and that there could be long-term negative side effects.

What do you think about the use of antibiotics and the possibility of them leading to severe post-infectious diseases? Comment below and share your stories.

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