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Antibiotics and Ulcerative Colitis

Antibiotics and UC

Doctors prescribe antibiotics for all kinds of bacterial infections in the body including those related to Ulcerative Colitis. Antibiotics kill off bacteria. One big problem is that they also kill off the good bacteria in the colon. When the good bacteria are killed off the bad bacteria take over. This can be very dangerous.

One bad bacteria is called C. difficile or C-diff  for short, is the most significant causes of pseudomembranous colitis a severe infection of the colon. It often happens after normal gut flora (bacteria in the colon) is eradicated by the use of antibiotics.  

“Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) caused almost half a million infections among patients in the United States in a single year, according to a study released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Aproximately 29,000 patients died within 30 days of the initial diagnosis of C. difficile.  Of those, about 15,000 deaths were estimated to be directly attributable to C. difficileinfections, making C. difficile a very important cause of infectious disease death in the United States.  More than 80 percent of the deaths associated with C. difficile occurred among Americans aged 65 years or older. C. difficile causes an inflammation of the colon and deadly diarrhea.” [1]

Treatment is  stopping any antibiotics and commencing with a course of specific anticlostridial antibiotics, like metronidazole (flagyl). Flagyl however it has unpleasant side effects. Flagyl is known to cause intestinal distress and can also cause bloody diarrhea. Another antibiotic used for Cdiff and is very effective is Vancomycin “When vancomycin is taken by mouth, it stays in the intestines to stop the growth of certain bacteria”. C-diff is stubborn. Sometimes you will need to take the vancomycin for a long time. You will need to have your stool sample tested. The lab tests are not always accurate when it comes to Cdiff so make sure you continue to have the tests run. 

Another treatment for C-Diff is Fecal Transplants where human stool is placed in the affected colon. There are people with UC on YouTube who are doing their own transplants and say they are having success. Currently in the US and Canada fecal transplants are not being done for UC, only for C-diff and that is only after all other treatments have been exhausted. I personally find it mind boggling that all other treatments which have nasty side effects have to be tried first. Fecal transplants are very successful for C-diff treatment though it can have risks. 

It is extremely important for people with Ulcerative Colitis to take probiotics (good bacteria) while taking antibiotics. C.Difficile can be deadly and most likely will require hospitalization.

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Another overgrowth that can happen from antibiotics is yeast/candida overgrowth. This can also cause Ulcerative Colitis symptoms. Again, probiotics are your best defense against a yeast overgrowth.


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[1] CDC Newsroom, (2015 February 25):

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