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The Newest Superbug Problem: Pain Relievers

Think about the last time you were prescribed an antibiotic or pain reliever by your doctor… Did you really need it?

An estimated 43 percent of the 130 million scripts for antibiotics were inappropriately prescribed or issued for no reason, according to a recent Oregon State University report.

These unnecessary prescriptions are creating a world in which antibiotics are losing their ability to work as they should, and that’s a real health problem for all of us.

Not only does the excessive use of antibiotics harm the healthy balance of bacteria in your gut, but these drugs can also leave you vulnerable to superbug infections like Clostridium difficile (C. diff) that are resistant to them.

Taking pain-relieving nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may worsen that problem, according to a recent study appearing in mBio.

Are you taking this drug?

Taking any type of drugs come with some health concerns — even small ones. The real challenge is looking for ways to modify those risk factors in the presence of diseases like C. diff, says Dr. David Aronoff, a microbiologist, infectious disease expert, and the lead author of this study.

Scientists tracked the health of two groups of mice treated with antibiotics after being infected with C. diff. One group was treated with indomethacin, an NSAID used to treat severe pain caused by osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, while the control group received no drug.

Only 20 percent of the mice exposed to the NSAID survived to the end of the study. What’s more, mice treated with the pain-relieving drug and antibiotics experienced altered gut microbiomes and worse C. diff infections, a sign their tiny immune systems were harmed.

Why you should be concerned: Indomethacin shares roughly the same biological mechanisms as far more common over-the-counter NSAIDs you may be taking more regularly, like aspirin and ibuprofen. (Taking acetaminophen in large doses isn’t safe for your gut either.)

Protect your gut

Previously, we have warned you about the effect a higher-than-you’d-expect number of non-antibiotic drugs that treat a myriad of problems with mental health, cancer, diabetes and blood pressure have on your gut bacteria.

As much as you’d like to avoid these interactions, that may not possible. You may need to take an antibiotic, one of these other drugs — or both — that may disturb the healthy balance and immune-supportive power, either for a short time or a long time.

So, what can you do?

First, be knowledgeable about those possible interactions when consulting with your doctor or your local pharmacist.

Also, taking a probiotic, ideally, one that contains multiple strains of beneficial bacteria like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic, may be your best weapon to give your body the help it needs to maintain the healthy balance of bacteria in your gut, protect your immune system and prevent C. diff infections altogether.

Resources

mBio

American Society for Microbiology

MedlinePlus

WebMD

American Academy of Rheumatology

 

 

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