Help me fix my antibiotic-shredded stomach!
April 6, 2009 11:26 AM   Subscribe

How do you fix a stomach blitzed by antibiotics?

I just got out of the hospital, where I was on an IV drip of crazy strong antibiotics for three days (for a kidney infection). They also made me take a bunch of mineral supplements (magnesium and potassium mostly) that shred my stomach under the best of conditions. And while I was there, they didn't let me eat for almost 48 hours because they kept doing CAT scans to check the progress in my stupid kidneys.

So- I'm coming off of almost two days of a totally empty stomach, the good bacteria balance in my stomach is totally destroyed, and all the mineral supps have just added to the problem. Every time I try to eat my stomach just clenches up in pain that comes in waves and almost doubles me over.

I have talked to my doc about this and he said to take acidophilis pills, which I am, and I'm also guzzling yogurt. But it's been two days now and I've yet to see any improvement, and I'm freaking starving. Can anyone recommend any other OTC meds or supplements or foods that I can take to quickly rebuild my, for lack of a better word, ecosystem?

Thanks in advance!
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Plain kefir will do you good.
posted by jgirl at 11:35 AM on April 6, 2009

If it were me, I'd double up on the acidophilus pills and skip the yogurt -- diary isn't always the easiest thing on your stomach, especially if your stomach isn't feeling so hot to begin with. You can also buy probiotic pills that have several different cultures. I'd get those, just so you get as many different good guys into your system as you can, since you don't really know which were knocked out by the antibiotics. Then I'd start, slowly, on the BRAT diet.

Feel better. It'll take a while, so be patient.
posted by mudpuppie at 11:41 AM on April 6, 2009

I think patience is the key. Strong antibiotics (depending on type) could be in your system for as long as a two or three weeks. It could just be that the residual antibiotics are still wiping out the new gut bacteria as fast as you add them. Or it may just be those mineral supplements. Keep taking the acidophilus pills and yogurt. Make sure you're drinking enough fluids.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 11:47 AM on April 6, 2009

Yes, it's definitely going to take awhile. Keep taking the probiotics. You might also consider picking up some digestive enzymes (sometimes called papaya enzymes...if you're shopping at a natural foods store, someone will help you if you ask). I've had good luck with those when trying to get back into eating after being sick.

I've also found that I've had to eat very, very slowly after being sick for awhile. I'm talking say, half a bite of rice (or less), wait maybe ten minutes to see how I feel, then another half bite, etc.

Feel better soon.
posted by corey flood at 12:11 PM on April 6, 2009

Florastor and bananas works for me.
posted by aquafortis at 12:29 PM on April 6, 2009

Acidophilus- or probiotics are to restore the natural flora. Then you can continue with a high quality diet that includes a lot of leafy green veggies - preferably juiced. Here are the links about the first part.
posted by watercarrier at 12:30 PM on April 6, 2009

There are a lot more types of beneficial bacteria than acidophilus - check into some good quality probiotic supplements. You'll get a lot more bacteria from them than from yogurt, I've been told.

As for your stomach, anything high fat is harder on the stomach, I think. If you concentrate on low-acid fruits and vegetables, as well as good quality grains that are easy to digest (like brown rice), it will be easier for your stomach to heal. It sounds ridiculous to mention what happened to my dog recently, but maybe the basic idea would help you. She became very sick and couldn't keep food or water down. After our vet examined her, he felt that she had probably swallowed something that had scratched her intestines, but hadn't actually caused a perforation. He gave her antibiotics for infection, and told me to feed her only chicken and rice for a few days. He uses alternative/natural treatments when appropriate and also gave me some probiotics to give to her daily to help heal her gut. The chicken & rice was the first thing she had been able to keep down, and she felt better rapidly with the antibiotics and being able to eat. I had to feed her the chicken & rice for a week - it really did take that long before she could tolerate dog food. He said that chicken, rice, potatoes, and green beans are easier on the stomach.
posted by onemorething at 1:44 PM on April 6, 2009

When I was hospitalized with an intravenous drip of all kinds of strong antibiotics and antifungals, what saved me was getting a prescription probiotic powder - refrigerated to preserve the live cultures. I could sprinkle it on food or add it to juice.

Yogurt is good for basic everyday stomach health, but when you're on powerful antibiotics that kill every living thing in your system, it's time to turn to the probiotic powders. Ask your doc for a prescription for the good stuff (broad-spectrum, need to be refrigerated). I'm surprised they didn't send you home with one.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 2:23 PM on April 6, 2009

I'm so sorry this happened to you. Everyone in my household is currently infected in various parts. I just found out yesterday that I'm suffering from a kidney infection, after three weeks of what I thought was just plain old back pain. So when I picked up my Rx of Cipro (and my daughter's amoxicillan, and my husband's clarithromycin), I asked the pharmacist about acidophilus. He said to take that instead of the yogurt. I like Rosie M. Banks's suggestion to ask for an Rx of the powder considering all you have been through.

I would also advise, because I've been there, take it easy on the foods and stick to the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast)--very bland--until you feel like your stomach can handle some normal food. Small bites of small meals, and plenty of water. Not soda, not juice, not coffee, not tea (yet)--water. (Remember, caffeine does a wonderful job of improving the motility of your bowels, probably something you do not want right now.)

My husband developed C. diff, a nasty intestinal infection, after taking a course of Augmentin this summer--the antibiotic wiped out all of the bacteria, both good and bad, from his intestine, and the C. diff grew. That was a painful and difficult experience for him. He didn't take probiotics. So now we do, every time an antibiotic is prescribed. We learned our lesson.

Rest up, and I really hope you feel better soon.
posted by FergieBelle at 5:02 PM on April 6, 2009

BRAT. Just BRAT. Maybe some Glucerna.

No leafy greens. No berries with seeds. Nothing with bubbles. No fats. No citrus or acidic foods, fruits, or juice. No alcohol. No caffeine. No mints or mint tea.

Don't eat a lot a once. For about a week.

Sip not-cold water all day.

Feel better soon.

Try not to watch the food channel. It will drive you crazy with lust.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 5:38 PM on April 6, 2009

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