Side Effects of Antimicrobial Drugs

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson is going to list some of the many side effects seen with antimicrobial drugs in general. We're going to break them into more common and/or less serious side effects and into the rare and more serious ones.

Antimicrobial Drugs

Antimicrobials are substances that are against (anti-) microscopic organisms (microbes). This often refers to drugs that target pathogenic (disease-causing) microbes like bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. While they are intended to destroy the microbes or, at the minimum, prevent them from multiplying, they may have adverse effects, or negative side effects as well. This lesson is going to go over the many different types of negative side effects antimicrobial drugs may produce.

Common or Less Serious Side Effects

In this first section, we're simply going to list quite a few of the relatively common and/or less serious side effects antimicrobial drugs are known to produce. There is one big catch here you must be cognizant of!

While some of these may be 'less serious' in that they are often simply inconvenient to a patient, that doesn't mean they shouldn't be taken seriously. For example, diarrhea is a relatively well-known and common side effect of many antimicrobial drugs. In most cases, the diarrhea isn't deadly. However, there are instances when it can most definitely be deadly or be part of a much larger negative reaction to the drug that is deadly. So keep that in mind!

Besides diarrhea, other relatively common and/or less serious side effects of antimicrobial drugs in general include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Secondary infections, like yeast infections when taking antibiotics

Rare & Serious Side Effects

Now, antimicrobials are also known to produce relatively rare and serious side effects. These should always be taken seriously and always addressed by a physician immediately as they are oftentimes signs of a serious reaction to the antimicrobial that may result in a person's incapacitation or death. These rare and serious side effects include:

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