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Are Antibiotics Responsible for GI Woes?

Q. My teenage daughter has been taking antibiotics to treat her acne for years, but she’s also had terrible GI problems (stomachaches and diarrhea) for much of that time. I didn’t think of a connection until recently, but now I wonder if the antibiotics might be responsible.

She has taken Prilosec, as per her doctor’s recommendation, but it really hasn’t helped. Is there anything else that might help her overcome these symptoms? Her dermatologist says if she stops the minocycline she is taking her acne will come back bad, and I hate for her to have to deal with that at the start of the school year.

A. It is possible that years of antibiotic treatment have altered the ecology of her digestive tract, contributing to her pain and diarrhea. Antibiotics kill good bacteria as well as the bad ones.

Repopulating the digestive tract with good bacteria can sometimes help reverse that problem. Such probiotic bacteria may be found in yogurt with active live cultures or capsules such as Culturelle, Enzymatic Therapy or Florastor.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.”.
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