As with most prescription drugs, it's normal to be a little hesitant or overly cautious when using antibiotics, especially where overuse is concerned. These drugs can help treat many illnesses and are necessary when prescribed by your doctor.
But antibiotics can also affect your normal cells and may harm the healthy flora in your colon, according to nutrition consultant Lawrence Wilson. However, you can keep your immune system in top shape while using antibiotics.
Start taking probiotics at the same time you begin a course of antibiotic treatment, which will help reduce symptoms such as antibiotic-related diarrhea and protect immune-boosting bacteria in your colon. According to Science Daily, a suggested dose of probiotics for adults is at least 10 billion colony forming units per day.
Get as much sleep as possible — about seven to nine hours — after your worst symptoms have subsided; sleep is essential for a healthy immune system. Don't try to fight sleeplessness in the early stages of battling infection, however, as this may help produce a fever and speed recovery, according to a study published in a 2009 issue of "Nature Review Neuroscience."
Eat 2 cups of fruits and 2 1/2 cups of vegetables daily. These are foods rich in vitamins C, E, carotenoids and bioflavonoids — all of which have antioxidant properties.
Exercise for at least 30 minutes five days a week as exercise stimulates the immune system to build cells, such as T cells and macrophages, that fight diseases and infections, according to naturopath Peter Bennett, author of "The Purification Plan."
Never take antibiotics without a doctor’s prescription.
If you are on a course of antibiotics, do not stop taking them without your doctor’s advice. Taking the entire course of prescribed antibiotics is the only way to eliminate the harmful bacteria in your body, according to MayoClinic.com.
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- Caring.com: Smarten Up About Antibiotics, CDC Urges
- ScienceDaily: Probiotics May Help People Taking Antibiotics
- Nature Review Neuroscience: How (and why) the immune system makes us sleep
- National Sleep Foundation: How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?
- AskDrSears.com: Feeding Your Immune System
- American Dietetic Association: Easy Ways to Get Your Fruits and Vegetables
- MayoClinic.com: Antibiotics: Misuse Puts You and Others at Risk