How Can I Avoid Upset Stomach from Antibiotics?

Consider taking versions of antibiotics that have a lower impact on the stomach, including those with an enteric coating.
Yogurt with live cultures can add beneficial bacteria and reduce stomach issues caused by antibiotics.
Probiotic supplements help maintain a healthy digestive tract.
Many medications list stomach discomfort as a possible side effect.
Choosing the right anibiotics can help eliminate an upset stomach.
A physician should be consulted if vomiting and upset stomach become persistent while taking antibiotics.
Article Details
  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 21 September 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
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Antibiotics are fantastic drugs — they can effectively kill bacteria and eliminate infections, but they do sometimes run the risk of producing negative side effects like upset and sore stomach. There are a number of ways to handle an upset stomach from antibiotics and these include choosing the type of antibiotic carefully, supplementing with live active cultures, and getting extra doctor care if upset stomach is severe.

The first thing that may help address upset stomach from antibiotics is the choice of medicine. Some antibiotics carry a much greater risk of causing stomach problems. Most of the drugs have this as a side effect, but in certain drugs, especially in groups like the macrolide class (erythromycin, clarithromycin, etc), chance of getting stomach problems like diarrhea tends to be greater. If people have had stomach problems with a particular antibiotic in the past, they can certainly tell doctors, and another drug with fewer stomach side effects might be selected instead. Alternately, some medications come in forms made with an enteric coating, which can help reduce stomach irritation.

It’s also very important to heed warning labels to prevent a high frequency of side effects. Any direction that a medication should be taken with food needs to be followed. Usually, this recommendation specifically targets stomach upset that may occur if the medicine is taken on an empty stomach. Consider a “take with food” suggestion seriously and follow the directions.


Another reason that people get upset stomach from antibiotics is because most of these drugs don’t discriminate between bad and beneficial bacteria. All humans have good bacteria in their gastrointestinal system that helps aid in digestion. As this is depleted by the antibiotic’s work, stomach upset can occur, and people most commonly get diarrhea. One method for preventing this is adding back beneficial bacteria by taking live active cultures. People could either take acidophilus or eat yogurt with live cultures. Not only may this aid in digestion, but it also can sometimes prevent yeast infections.

On the advice of doctors, people may also treat some of the symptoms of upset stomach from antibiotics with over the counter medicines. Drugs that prevent diarrhea or stop nausea or heartburn could be appropriate. Patients should always seek advice before heading to a pharmacy for these drugs because some medicines may conflict with the antibiotics they're taking.

Occasionally, upset stomach from antibiotics persists, and some severe side effects may impact gastrointestinal workings. If diarrhea or vomiting begins and does not stop or becomes severe, people should definitely contact their physicians. Seeing a doctor right away is also important if any stomach symptoms like vomiting blood, having black, tarry stools, or experiencing extreme stomach pain occur. These could suggest serious illnesses, like inflammation or sudden development of ulcers. In most cases, people should not stop taking an antibiotic unless advised to do so by a physician.


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Post 3

about the antibiotics being in your meat or dairy, all antibiotics used in animals have withdrawal dates, meaning that if a dairy cow is treated, her milk cannot be used for x number of days depending on the drug used. The same goes for those going to slaughter. There is a both meat and milk withdrawal for medications used in livestock.

Post 2

@Catapult, long term use of antibiotics can also be a factor. I have a friend whose mother refuses to throw antibiotics away, and has some in her house from ten years ago. Not only are these pills not safe, continuing to take them when not necessary can challenge your digestion in ways it should not be challenged.

Post 1

One of the other causes of an increase in problems with antibiotics in recent years is the overuse of them, not only in prescriptions but in foods. Many animal products, dairy as well as meat, come from animals treated with antibiotics to help them grow and prevent disease. If you do have trouble with antibiotics, it might be a good idea to also look at the animal products in your diet and try to lessen your intake or even remove those which may come from factory farms that use antibiotics.

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