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Antibiotics for Infection and Prevention

Aug 17, 2007
When medicines have a list of possible side effects, how long does it take for them to occur?

All medicines have a list of possible side effects; some lists are longer than others. How long it takes for a side effect to appear depends on the medication and your individual response. Sometimes it's a matter of minutes. For example, some sleeping pills can induce nausea or dizziness within 15 minutes. And nitroglycerin, used for chest pain, can spark a headache within minutes.

It is a drug-oriented world with a pill for every ache, a prescription for every ailment. While drugs are a marvel of the modern age, curing many diseases, they may not be the answer to every illness.

People who take antibiotics for infection may experience diarrhea and abdominal cramps hours after their dose; a week later, they may be faced with a yeast infection or thrush. Dependence on and abuse of painkillers, muscle relaxers and anti-anxiety medications could develop after several weeks.

Some medications take much longer to cause side effects -- months or even years. For example, statin cholesterol-reducing medications may be the source of muscle pain, leg cramps or fatigue in some patients, but it could take six months to a year to see this. Statins, as well as the popular pain-reliever acetaminophen (Tylenol), have the potential to harm the liver, though this also may not be seen right away.

Birth-control pills or hormone-replacement patches and pills that contain estrogen may cause side effects of gallstones, blood-sugar problems or weight gain, but it doesn't happen right off. Cervical, breast and endometrial cancer deserve mention because they also have been tied to female hormone use.

Men take medications that manipulate their hormones too. For instance, Proscar (finasteride) is used to shrink the prostate and help men with BPH, but some research suggests that it fuels the growth of tumors. Another popular drug for men is Propecia, which is prescribed for male pattern baldness. The drug also contains finasteride, but at a much lower dose. It's not that Propecia causes cancer -- studies have not yet shown that. It's that the drug manipulates testosterone levels, and men need to weigh benefits against
potential risk.

So, is there a single pill antibiotic for infections. Will this be the wave of the future?

The FDA recently approved azithromycin as a single dose for some sinus infections and pneumonias. This drug's very long half- life makes this possible.

Before now, lower doses of the drug were taken for either five or three days. The advantage of single dose use is obvious better compliance.

Fewer people will stop taking their antibiotic course half- way through.

Not completing an antibiotic course leads to bacteria becoming resistant to medications.

The concern, however, is that if antibiotics become that simple to take, people may be even more tempted to take them "just in case" for viral infections and colds which are not helped by antibiotics.

This would lead to antibiotic resistance. Azithromycin is not cheap, and not available generically. For most infections, there are generic alternatives that are cheaper, but taken for seven to 10 days.
About the Author
Joe enjoys the study of both natural and conventional medicine. For his latest antibiotic/amoxil blog, see: Amoxil Blog .
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