Be Smart About Antibiotics

June 21, 2017
Mercy Personal Physicians at Lutherville

Can certain medications, like antibiotics, affect your digestion? What symptoms might one experience? Are there side effects? Mercy’s Dr. Ruth Brocato, a primary care provider specializing in Family Medicine at Mercy Personal Physicians at Lutherville, offers insights…

Regarding antibiotics, there are concerns relative to the risk of serious infection primarily from overgrowth of "bad bacteria" as more protective bacteria are killed off by the antibiotic. I tell my patients to only take antibiotics if it is absolutely clear that we are treating a bacterial infection and not a virus. Avoid antibiotic overuse! You don't want an antibiotic unless absolutely needed. Trust your doctor about this.

If your doctor does prescribe an antibiotic, you may wish to take a good probiotic tablet and eat lots of yogurt to try to protect gut flora. Be aware that for some people, taking antibiotics may trigger a potentially life-threatening infection caused by a type of bacteria called clostridium difficile, or C. diff. Antibiotics kill off other helpful bacteria in the intestines, allowing an overgrowth of the C. diff bacteria. This can lead to colitis, a serious inflammation of the colon. In addition, vagina yeast infections are also common.

“Take home” points to remember? Antibiotics should be used very judiciously. Antibiotics do not decrease the length of viral infections, and they can cause very serious side effects, such as C. diff., and antibiotic resistance.

-- Ruth M. Brocato, M.D.

Dr. Ruth Brocato’s specialty in Family Medicine allows her to provide a variety of comprehensive care options for her patients, from wellness visits to acute illness. She offers well-child visits, sports physicals for adolescents and screenings for adults. Dr. Brocato focuses her care on health prevention and lifestyle changes, including routine immunizations and diet and weight management. 


Dan Collins - Senior Director of Media Relations at Mercy Medical Center

Dan Collins, Senior Director of Media Relations

Email: Office: 410-332-9714 Cell: 410-375-7342

About Mercy

Founded in 1874, Mercy Medical Center is a university-affiliated medical facility named one of the top 100 hospitals in the U.S. by Thomson-Reuters with a national reputation for women’s health. Mercy is home to the nationally acclaimed Weinberg Center for Women’s Health and Medicine as well as the $400+ million, 20-story Mary Catherine Bunting Center. For more information visit Mercy online at, Facebook, Twitter or call 1-800-MD-MERCY.

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