Chronic use of antibiotics, that is taking them daily for months, is used in many conditions, such as chronic ear infections, chronic urinary tract infections, acne, etc… This is almost always a bad idea.
- First of all, bacteria has a wonderful ability to mutate and become resistant to antibiotics. Whenever an antibiotic is used for an extended period of time, it increases the chances for the remaining bacteria to mutate and become resistant. Once it becomes resistant to one antibiotic, it won’t work anymore. The doctor will often prescribe another antibiotic, but the same problem may recurr. Now we have a strain resistant to both drugs. And on and on… No wonder we have these “super-bugs” now, resistant to all known antibiotics.
- Our gut is populated by bacteria. These bugs are friendly. They help us digest food, keep the gut in good working order, and some even make vitamins for us. We want these bacteria to be happy and healthy. When antibiotics are used, they pass through the gut and kill many of these friendly creatures. If the drug is used for only a short time, the friendly bacteria recover fairly quickly. If an antibiotic is used for a long time, it may mess the gut flora to such an extent, that recovery will be very difficult. Sometimes, once the good bugs are killed by a drug, bad bugs resistant to the drug grow in their place. This happens in the gut and in other areas, such as skin, vagina, etc. Many women experience vaginal yeast infections after antibiotic use. An example of a more serious complication of antibiotic use is pseudomembranous colitis. Probiotics are often effective in restoring the damaged gut flora.
- Use of antibiotics has the ability to make our immune system less active. Whenever some part of the body is not allowed to be exercised, it atrophies, or become weak. Everybody has heard of astronaughts coming back to earth after an extended stint in space being weak and unable to stand up without support. This happens because in the conditions of low gravity their muscles become weak. The same thing happens with the immune system when it is not allowed to exercise its main function of killing invaders. When a drug kills bugs, the immune system can take a rest. The more it rests, the weaker it becomes. It is catch 22: the weaker it becomes, the more we need to use antibiotics, and the situation spirals out of control.
Correct treatment of a condition where chronic use of antibiotics is considered must be directed at removing the cause of the chronic infection, rather than the feeble attempts at keeping it at bay. Sometimes an invasive procedure, such as surgery or foreign body removal by some other means, must be employed. Sometimes nutrition needs to be improved through the use of supplements or dietary modification.