When it comes to medication usage, it’s often required to take multiple drugs simultaneously to manage different illnesses. Infections, for example, can be treated with antibiotics while inflammation can be eased with corticosteroids. However, with multiple medications in treatment, it’s essential to determine whether or not these drugs can be safely consumed together.
Corticosteroids and antibiotics are two kinds of drugs with different functions consumed for multiple reasons. Antibiotics are used for the treatment of bacterial infections like urinary tract infections, bacterial pneumonia, Among others. On the other hand, corticosteroids are consumed for the management of inflammation, arthritis, and allergies and are commonly known as steroids. Together, they can be used in treating chronic respiratory conditions like asthma, COPD, and acute conditions like skin infections.
Although antibiotics and corticosteroids can be taken together, it is important to know when it is safe or not. This article will explain in detail whether or not you can take corticosteroids with antibiotics.
What are Corticosteroids?
Corticosteroids are a group of synthetic drugs similar to the natural hormones produced by the body’s adrenal gland. These hormones are responsible for regulating metabolism, immune responses, blood pressure, mineral and glucose levels in the body. Medical practitioners can prescribe corticosteroids for many reasons, such as reducing inflammation, relieving chronic pain, directing immune responses, and controlling organ rejection, among others.
Corticosteroids are mainly classified into two groups – glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids. The former is responsible for regulating metabolism and immune response, while the latter regulates the salt balance in the body.
The synthetic corticosteroids are primarily used when there is a need to control inflammation, and they are administered orally, topically, or through injections. Common side effects when used chronically include weight gain, immunosuppression, high blood pressure, and osteoporosis, among others.
What are Antibiotics?
Antibiotics, on the other hand, are a group of drugs used to treat bacterial infections. The goal of antibiotics is to prevent the bacteria from growing and multiplying. Antibiotics can be classified into several groups, depending on their chemical structure and the bacteria they target. Examples of antibiotics include penicillins, cephalosporins, macrolides, quinolones, and tetracyclines, among others.
Antibiotics work by targeting the bacterial cell wall, cell membrane, protein metabolism, or DNA synthesis. They are administered orally, intravenously, or topically, and their side effects include allergic reactions, upset stomach, antibiotic resistance, and toxic effects on the liver and kidney, to name a few.
Can Corticosteroids be taken with Antibiotics?
Yes, you can take corticosteroids with antibiotics. Both corticosteroids and antibiotics work differently in the body, and they address different conditions. While antibiotics are designed to eliminate bacterial infections, corticosteroids focus on managing inflammation in the body.
Moreover, corticosteroids and antibiotics can be used together in treating a variety of conditions related to the immune response, inflammation, and infections. For example, a severe skin inflammation in eczema where the topical creams are not enough to control the inflammation, the doctor can decide to prescribe an antibiotic and a topical corticosteroid cream to manage the inflammation and the bacterial infection. As another example, a patient with COPD and a bacterial lung infection may be prescribed both antibiotics for infection and a corticosteroid to manage the inflammation in the lungs.
It’s vital to understand that the use of corticosteroids with antibiotics should only be recommended by a medical specialist because it can increase the risk of adverse effects. Also, it’s essential to be careful when using the two drugs simultaneously since they can affect the immune system and lead to impaired healing or delay recovery.
Risks and Safety Measures
One of the significant risks of consuming antibiotics with corticosteroids is the potential to increase the time needed for tissue healing. Corticosteroids reduce inflammation in the body by depresses the immune system, which reduces the body’s ability to fight off infections. This mechanism of action means that corticosteroids can mask or delay the identification of infections, allowing the spread and the worsening of the underlying illness.
While antibiotics can be used to treat the infections effectively, the combination of corticosteroids with antibiotics can lead to an increased risk of antibiotic-resistant infections. Antibiotic-resistant infections happen when bacteria evolve to resist the effects of antibiotics, reducing the effectiveness of certain antibiotics. When this happens, the bacteria cannot be killed effectively, and antibiotic treatment failure can occur.
On the other hand, it’s safe to use these two drugs together for a short time when treating chronic airflow obstruction, such as COPD. In such cases, the antibiotics help to fight off the present infection while the corticosteroids help to reduce inflammation in the airways, ultimately improving the symptoms.
When using a combination of antibiotics and corticosteroids, there are specific safety measures that a patient must adhere to. These include:
1. Usage for the right Reasons: The administration of antibiotics with corticosteroids should only be given for the right reasons because they can affect the body’s immune system and lead to delayed healing. Therefore, it’s vital to follow a doctor’s instructions to ensure safe administration.
2. Dosage Consistency: Consistent dosage of both antibiotics and corticosteroids is critical, as irregular doses may result in treatment failure. Patients are advised to take the correct dosage as prescribed by the doctor and to continue with the treatment course, even when symptoms improve.
3. Monitoring: Patients should monitor any adverse effects during treatment and report them to the doctor immediately. Symptoms that require urgent medical attention include allergic reactions, difficulty with breathing, swelling of the face, and high fever, among others.
4. Timely treatment: if you are taking antibiotics and corticosteroids and develop any new symptoms despite the ongoing treatment, it’s important to seek medical help immediately.
It’s important to know that both corticosteroids and antibiotics are different drugs used in treating different conditions. While it is safe to consume both at the same time, patients are advised to take caution and only take them when prescribed by a medical specialist. It’s also essential to adhere to the dosage instructions from the doctor, monitor any possible side effects, take them for the recommended amount of time, and seek medical help immediately when experiencing new symptoms.
Most importantly, patients should learn to differentiate between different types of antibiotics and corticosteroids and how they relate to their conditions to help them determine which medication is best suited for their condition. With this knowledge, patients can engage their doctors in informed conversations about their conditions and the treatment options available to them.