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May 2019 (Vol. 4 Issue 3)

The drugs that lower your defences to common gut bug
About the author: 
Bryan Hubbard

The drugs that lower your defences to common gut bug image

People are more likely to catch the common gut bug, C. difficile, after a course of antibiotics—but now researchers think that standard painkillers pose a similar risk.

The NSAID (non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs) painkillers make Clostridium difficile infection more likely, and worsen the symptoms, which can include diarrhea, stomach pains and fatigue; it's also one of the most dangerous infections caught in hospitals and care homes, with the US's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimating that 15,000 Americans die each year as a direct result of infection.

It's known that people are more susceptible to the bug after a course of antibiotics that can disturb the bacteria in the gut, but researchers from the University of Michigan say that NSAIDs pose a similar risk.

Their fears are based on tests on laboratory mice, some of whom were given an NSAID. Just 20 per cent of those given a painkiller survived the infection, whereas 80 per cent of those not given the drug did so.


References

(Source: mBio, 2019; 10: doi: 10.1128/mBio.02282-18)

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