May 6, 2022 - Health

Antibiotics versus your microbiome

In this illustration, a pill is surrounded by antibodies.

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Even a short course of antibiotics can disrupt a healthy person's gut health for months, if not years, The Scientist reports.

Why it matters: It's additional evidence why the drugs, which are commonly seen as innocuous treatments by patients, should be used only when absolutely necessary.

  • Researchers gave courses of antibiotics to 20 healthy volunteers from the St. Louis area and measured what happened in their guts, according to their recently published study in Cell Reports.
  • While most of the volunteers' microbiomes largely returned to normal within two months, some of the volunteers' guts more closely resembled ICU patients after six months. The presence of bacteria that were more resistant to antibiotics also increased.

What they are saying: "Taking antimicrobials is a gamble every single time you do it, even if it's fully warranted," said Gautam Dantas, a pathologist and microbiologist at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, per The Scientist.

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