Overuse of Antibiotics is Bad for the Immune System


Antibiotic is Greek for anti, meaning against and bios meaning life.

A bacterium is a life form that is either good, living in our intestines or bad, invading our bodies and making us sick.

Antibiotics are drugs used to treat infections caused by bacteria.

Healthy immune systems destroy bad bacteria before they can wreak havoc in the body causing illness.

Our bodies attack the bacteria by sending white blood cells to the harmful bacteria leaving the good bacteria alone.


How Do Antibiotics Work

Antibiotics work by killing the bad bacteria which are living organisms that are growing and reproducing in the body to cause illness.

Antibiotics are ineffective on viruses. Viruses cause the common cold, flu, runny nose, middle ear fluid, chest colds, sore throats, and bronchitis.


What Overusing Antibiotics Can Do

If antibiotics are overused or used incorrectly there is a chance the bacteria will become resistant to antibiotics and become less effective against the bad type of bacteria that invades the immune system’s defenses.

Once the prescribed course of antibiotics have been taken and the bacteria may still exist which is a sign that the bacteria is fighting against the antibiotic. The antibiotic is no longer effective; therefore, when we go back to the doctor, we are still sick.

Sometimes we are upset when we leave without antibiotics, thinking they will help fight the bad bacteria. What the doctor knows is that the antibiotic is no longer working. The immune system starts breaking down aiding in harboring the bad bacteria.

Some doctors will still prescribe the antibiotic or try a new one. The immune system is fighting the bad bacteria, and the antibiotic is interfering with that fight. So be wary before trying to get another prescription of antibiotics. Your immune system needs time to recover so it can fight the battle for you.


Yeast Infections: An Ugly Side Effect Caused by Taking Antibiotics

Since the immune system is lowered or weakened by taking antibiotics, a fungal infection or yeast infection can occur because there has been a disruption of the normal bacterial colonization. The immune system has been suppressed, therefore, providing an environment within the body which fungi can thrive.

Yeast infections are caused by a fungus known as Candida. Sometimes when someone is in the hospital, the use of strong antibiotics or even several antibiotics fighting bacterial infections are being used, and the patient contracts a yeast infection.

One good way to fight the yeast infection is to eat yogurt. Yogurt contains probiotics the healthy or good bacteria that lives in our digestive system and helps fight a yeast infection caused by antibiotics. While taking antibiotics eat plain yogurt. Eating yogurt with sugar or flavors might cause the yeast infection to become worse.

Inappropriate Use of Antibiotics

It is harmful to inappropriately overuse antibiotics, especially for colds and other viral illnesses. We’ve all probably gotten sick and had some unused antibiotic in the cabinet but if you are not dealing with a bacterial infection, they have no effect.

There are dangerous side effects. Inappropriate use of antibiotics, by either taking them for the wrong reason or overusing them, can cause the bacteria to resist the effects of the antibiotic treatment. This is called bacterial resistance or antibiotic resistance. Certain bacteria have become resistant to some of the most powerful antibiotics. The antibiotics not only go after the bad bacteria, but the good bacteria, too.

The scary thing is that without the good bacteria fighting in your system and the build up in your immune system against the antibiotic, there are illnesses that are more common and dangerous if not treated. For instance pneumonia, meningitis, sinus infections, skin infections, and tuberculosis are becoming harder and harder to treat with antibiotics.

The widespread resistance of antibiotics has become one of the biggest concerns of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (Source: Kids health.org)

Taking so many antibiotics lowers our immune system and destroys the good bacteria leaving us open to illness, infection, and disease. Beware of relying on antibiotics for a lengthy period of time unless under doctor's supervision.


SHolland10 is not a medical expert. The information provided is from personal experience and research. Do not ignore symptoms of illness, infection, or disease. There are many instances antibiotics are needed. Consult your physician for more information.

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Comments 34 comments

BlissfulWriter profile image

BlissfulWriter 4 years ago

I agree that one should avoid the use of antibiotics unless really necessary. Because the antibiotics kill off the good bacteria (probiotics) in our gut as well as the bad ones. Without good bacteria, we can not perform digestion as well. And worst is when the bad bacteria overtakes the good bacteria due to not having enough probiotics. And this can lead to SIBO (small intestinal bacteria overgrowth) and yeast infections, etc.

Janine Huldie profile image

Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

So very true about the misuse of antibiotics, plus the side effects too can be worse than the actual disease it is treating. My younger daughter had an ear infection recently. She was given an antibiotic. She had already been given amoxicillan for he previous ear infection she had a few months before, so they gave her a bit stronger of an antibiotic and she ended up with the worst case diarrhea. Guess what I took her back to the pediatrician and the ear infection had miraculously cleared and was told not to give her the antibiotic anymore. Moral of the story, sometimes the antibiotic is not the right course and can definitely do more harm that good. Have voted and shared too!!

Ruchira profile image

Ruchira 4 years ago from United States

Well said, Sholland. excess of anything esp which affects our immune system is not good.

I loved your hub on using santizer and now this!

many votes as useful/interesting!

sholland10 profile image

sholland10 4 years ago from Southwest Missouri Author

BW, our digestion system does depend on a balance of good bacteria in our systems. When we do get sick with a bacterial infection, we do need the antibiotic. We just need to take the lowest prescription of antibiotic as possible. So many do not get better because they have been given too many antibiotics (esp. when they are in the hospital).

Thanks for your insightful comment! :-)

sholland10 profile image

sholland10 4 years ago from Southwest Missouri Author

Hi Janine, thanks for sharing your daughter's story (poor girl - what an ordeal!). It shows how going to a stronger antibiotic makes it worse. It moved from curing the bacteria in her ear to attacking the good bacteria in her intestines. I hope she is better now.

Thanks for dropping by, voting and sharing! :-)

sholland10 profile image

sholland10 4 years ago from Southwest Missouri Author

Ruchira, thanks for your support! I love seeing your comments.

I appreciate you dropping by, voting and sharing! :-)

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Ghaelach 4 years ago

A wonderful Sunday evening to you Susan.

A great hub on the dangers of to big a dosage of antibiotics.

That is people that are generally classed as healthy, but alas I'm not so healthy.

Each year for the rest of my life I must take tablets for 30 days as my immune system is not what it should be and able to fight the bad bacteria in which my body is full of.

The good bacteria we all have, but with me I have more than enough of the bad guys.

I got caught in the hospital with MRSA (staphylococcus and streptococcus) which the Doc's call "Chronic Osteomyelitis". Sounds great but very painful, so I need my antibiotics.

Great hub, great research.

LOL Ghaelach

CarlySullens profile image

CarlySullens 4 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

You did a great job on this very dense subject matter. It was clear, concise and easy to follow. I agree with you. When I was pregnant with my first child it was important to me to find a pediatrician that was not going to prescribe all the illnesses away. He was very holistic and open to parenting from being as organic as possible to prescribing meds. when necessary. I knew when he prescribed something it was important to be taken. He was a rare pediatrician.

It is so hard in today's world to watch your kids be sick, or for an adult to feel ill and fight through the cold. We forget, fighting through a cold actually makes us stronger.

Antibiotics are necessary, and they have helped the population heal and grow, but overuse, will eventually do the opposite.

Voted up and shared.

Lucky Cats profile image

Lucky Cats 4 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

Hi SHolland10...you have helped so many with this hub. It is true; according to many medical informational sources, that the overuse of antibiotics is a dangerous course we seem to be on. Some have been quoted as saying; 'we are one antibiotic away from no protection....' (not an exact quote but, I'm sure we're all familiar with this potential). Also, it is common knowledge that much of the meat industry uses additional antibiotics during the raising of animals...which, in some cases, reach the product that is offered for sale in the market. We are oversaturated w/antiseptic cleansers, soaps, etc. Authorities have also suggested that we back off these as our natural immune systems are built to deal w/everyday exposture to bacteria.

Up Useful Interesting

josh3418 profile image

josh3418 4 years ago from Pennsylvania


Fantastic job here! You are great at writing informative hubs. Your research is impeccable, and your presentation is written clearly and easy to understand. You have brought up some excellent points about the harm in overdosing. Thanks Sue, you may not be a doctor, but you are sure good at writing about medical stuff!

thewritingowl profile image

thewritingowl 4 years ago from Ireland

Good article. I hardly ever take antibiotics as I do seem to get yeast infections if I do. Have been times when I have been told I needed one and have been tempted but try to hold off if I can as I know what you are saying is true. Also viruses are becoming so much harder to fight as maybe our immune systems are becoming weaker because we are taking too many antibiotics just as you say. Voted up.

Your Cousins profile image

Your Cousins 4 years ago from Atlanta, GA

It used to be that leaving the pediatrician's office with Amoxyllin or what we called "the pink liquid" made us feel that we had the medicine to cure everything that our kids might contract. It's not as easy to get the pink liquid anymore and for good reason. Voted up! Thanks for the hub.

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

OK..Susan...You tripped me up. I thought I had read this....so I had to go snooping to see what's what......One of your recent hubs is in this same vein, with a different twist. I get it now....duh. Oh, this aging thing.....

The antibiotic controversy is alive and well...no pun intended. Do we know what, if anything medical science is working on to combat this serious reality?? UP+++

sholland10 profile image

sholland10 4 years ago from Southwest Missouri Author

Ghaelach, I am so sorry to hear of your fight with illness. Obviously, this hub does not apply to you. I wish it did, and I hope you are getting rid of those bad bacteria. Keep your spirits up. I wish I had more medical knowledge to give you. The only thing I wonder about is have you researched alternatives, such as herbs? Please do not do anything to make your situation worse. I hope you are feeling better when you take your 30 day cycle.

Positive thoughts and prayers coming your way.

Thanks for dropping by and sharing your story.

sholland10 profile image

sholland10 4 years ago from Southwest Missouri Author

Carly, I am so glad you had a good pediatrician who was open to holistic possibilities. What types of treatments did you take? Were they in place of antibiotics?

Antibiotics have been the savior to many, and I hope I am not deterring anyone from their use, just warning about overuse and the effect on the immune system.

We are stronger when we can fight off the bad bacteria in other forms. You are so right when stating that.

Thanks for dropping by, the votes, and the shares. :-)

sholland10 profile image

sholland10 4 years ago from Southwest Missouri Author

Lucky Cats, it is overwhelming how we have fallen into a society that wants a quick cure - which is natural, yet can be dangerous. Some things just need to run their course. If natural alternatives can be used, we should seek them out. All you have said is true. More and more is coming out about the dangers of overusing antibiotics.

Thanks for dropping by, voting, and giving your insightful response. :-)

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Ghaelach 4 years ago

Hi sholland10.

Thanks for your kind comments, But unfortunately my illness will stay with me until the day I die. It's at a stage where there are no antibiotics, just pain killers.

The doctors made a mistake 10 years ago by not cutting my foot off as I would have liked. The bacteria would have been cut away as well and I would have a false foot without the pain and the problems I have now.

I Still have my foot and my pain and live with it.

LOL Ghaelach

CarlySullens profile image

CarlySullens 4 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

Susan, He would tell me, instead of antibiotics, to let the fever 'burn' the illness off. Which is so hard for many parents to do. You have to watch the fever carefully to make sure it does not get to high. This method is controversial also. I would then us Tylenol to reduce the fever and make the child more comfortable and a luke-warm bath. At the time I was doing this, I was also nursing, so I felt confident that my antibodies that were fighting off the cold in me where being passed to my children.

At times it would work. If the fever/illness lasted for more than 3 days and was not getting better, I will then have my kids go on the antibiotics. I was not 100% holistic nor 100% pharmaceutical.

I also gave them plenty of fluids and tried to have them rest as much as a baby/toddler can.

This is what I continue to do today. At the first sign of illness, plenty of fluids and rest. If it continues to get worse of to the doctors we go for the antibiotics.

RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Very very true! I am so tired of anti bacteria EVERYTHING! I do not use any antibacterial products like soaps for dishes and shower - or anything like that unless it's floor cleaner. We've just gone crazy with it.

My did is an M.D. And mom is R.N. - they have been saying the same for years. Don't use it unless your body can't fight off infection - over use just makes it useless when we need it! Excellent advice!

sholland10 profile image

sholland10 4 years ago from Southwest Missouri Author

Thanks, Josh! I appreciate your kind words.

Thanks for dropping by! :-)

sholland10 profile image

sholland10 4 years ago from Southwest Missouri Author

WritingOwl, I understand your hesitancy for taking antibiotics. If you do have a bacterial infection and need to take them, eating yogurt heads off the yeast infection. I know my source said plain yogurt, but I eat the kinds I like. It really does help. Take care!

Thanks for dropping by and the vote. :-)

sholland10 profile image

sholland10 4 years ago from Southwest Missouri Author

Your Cousins, I think we know more about antibiotics now, and how they can work against our immune systems. I appreciate your feedback! :-)

Thanks for dropping by and the vote. :-)

sholland10 profile image

sholland10 4 years ago from Southwest Missouri Author

Paula, don't be talkin' about aging. We will forget whether we took our antibiotics or not, or whether we were even given an antibiotic, or whether we are overusing them... Oh, I am so confused... LOL

I think we are learning more, but sometimes I think we are spoon-fed... No pun intended.

Thanks for taking a look. I did write about germs and bacteria, and now I've written about antibiotics. Both deal with the immune system. I had to say that just to see if my poor ole memory could get it out. :-D

Thanks so much for dropping by and the votes. :-)

sholland10 profile image

sholland10 4 years ago from Southwest Missouri Author

Oh Ghaelach, I am so sorry to hear about your pain and suffering. I wish there was something that could help. I don't have the words... Please take care of yourself. I am sending positive thoughts your way and a prayer up for you.

sholland10 profile image

sholland10 4 years ago from Southwest Missouri Author

Carly, I remember doing the same things for my kids. Probably 9/10 times, it worked. I also do plenty of liquids and rest for my family and self.

Many think it is because I hate going to the doctor, but that is not the case. I will go to the doctor when I am sure I cannot get better on my own. Or, I will call the doctor to get her opinion. She is really good to tell me whether it sounds bacterial or viral.

Thanks for sharing what you do. Sounds like you have a really good doctor, too. :-)

sholland10 profile image

sholland10 4 years ago from Southwest Missouri Author

Hey Kelly, your parents are right. They know our immune systems break down when we do not have that good bacteria fighting for us.

Thanks for dropping by! :-)

alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

I've read that the use of antibiotics in general has had unintended consequences. More and more bacteria are becoming resistant to it, rendering it useless. Voting this Up and Interesting.

sholland10 profile image

sholland10 4 years ago from Southwest Missouri Author

ALocsin, it's scary when you think about bacterial resistance. Things that didn't make us sick years ago before the big antibacterial craze are now breaking down our immune systems.

Thanks for dropping by and the votes! :-)

kidscrafts profile image

kidscrafts 4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

Very interesting article! The problem is that doctors don't believe in more natural cures. There are other solutions to help combat infections.

Voted up and interesting!

sholland10 profile image

sholland10 4 years ago from Southwest Missouri Author

Hi KidsCrafts! Most doctors do not believe in alternative medicines. I think they need to study them more.

Thanks for dropping by and the votes. :-)

agusfanani profile image

agusfanani 4 years ago from Indonesia

I've consumed a lot of antibiotics in my life given through prescription from the doctors and after reading this hub I hope there is no resistant bacteria in my body. This hub contains important information so that people do not rely too much on antibiotics in curing their illnesses.

sholland10 profile image

sholland10 4 years ago from Southwest Missouri Author

AgusFanani, we do need to aware of overuse of antibiotics, but there are times when we do need them. As long as we are still strong, we should follow our doctor's orders. It is when we are going back to the doctor asking for more that we need to be careful. If we give them the chance to take their course, we should be fine. Hopefully, our doctors will not give into those who do not need them.

Thanks for dropping by! :-)

nifwlseirff profile image

nifwlseirff 3 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany

Overuse of antibiotics is contributing to the development of scary superbugs, but it can also affect our own bodies.

Throughout my life, I have had persistent infections (bronchitis, UTIs, sinus infections, etc.), and was prescribed course after course of increasingly stronger antibiotics. Over time, they stopped working, or I developed nasty allergic reactions to them.

After one particularly nasty UTI, which responded only to the strongest antibiotic, the doctors have said to avoid medication unless absolutely necessary (as in hospital-level necessary).

I've gotten through UTIs, bronchitis and long bouts of sinusitis, on doctor's suggestions, with only pain killers and 'natural' remedies (cranberry, high-dose vitamin C, etc.). The infections have lasted just as long as *with* the antibiotics (were they doing anything at all?)

Of course, I always see a doctor when I know I'm really sick, so they can decide if it's necessary to use an antibiotic, or if it's safe to tough it out and get well on my own.

sholland10 profile image

sholland10 3 years ago from Southwest Missouri Author

Hi Nif, I am sorry you have had so many persistent infections. I know this winter for the first time in years, I had the respiratory infection that was going around twice... The first time I took antibiotics, and they did very little. The second time I stuck to green tea with lemon, salsa and chips, and Ester-C. I got over it quicker. I could have been misdiagnosed and it could have been a virus, but I got better results with my own methods. I, too, will always check with a doctor, but I will defer to my own common sense if I have done all the doctor says and see no results.

Thanks for sharing your story. I hope you are well now. :-)

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