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Antibiotics May Reduce Effectiveness of Flu Vaccine


Have you had your flu shot yet? Doctors agree, the flu vaccine is recommended to avoid the flu virus. The Mayo Clinic says, “Getting a flu shot often protects you from coming down with the flu. This year’s annual flu shot will offer protection against three or four of the influenza viruses expected to be in circulation this flu season.”However, if you are taking antibiotics, that may reduce the effectiveness of the flu vaccine. According to a new research study reported by Everyday Health, antibiotics may make the flu vaccine less effective by disrupting gut microbes.

A new study suggests that oral antibiotics may reduce the body’s immune response to the vaccine.

The research showing antibiotics may reduce the effectiveness of the flu vaccine was conducted at Stanford University:
Scientists discovered that a course of antibiotics may cut the effectiveness of the flu vaccine by killing off gut microbes that appear to play an important role in keeping the immune system healthy.
Additionally, the researchers discovered a link between antibiotic use, gut bacteria, and unhealthy systemic inflammation:

They found that people taking the antibiotics experienced a 10,000-fold drop in their gut bacteria population — a loss that lasted up to a year after they took the drugs. These participants also displayed signs of systemic inflammation.

According to William Schaffner, MD, an infectious disease specialist and a professor of preventive medicine and health policy at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee, “Taking antibiotics clearly had a measurable reduction in the immune response.”

Sinus Infections Commonly Treated with Antibiotics

While the use of antibiotics is often necessary, some conditions are preventable. Following a long bout of common cold or allergies, a secondary bacterial infection may result in the respiratory tract. Antibiotics are commonly prescribed for upper respiratory and sinus bacterial infections. The Cleveland Clinic cites, “Antibiotics, such as amoxicillin for 2 weeks, have been the recommended first-line treatment of uncomplicated acute sinusitis."
However, the use of antibiotics to treat sinus infections is controversial due to the overuse of antibiotics in general and the negative effects on gastrointestinal healthy bacteria. Also, sinus infections are almost always the result of a viral infection, not bacterial—and antibiotics don’t work against viruses.

According to Choosing Wisely Canada

Millions of people are prescribed antibiotics each year for sinus infections, a frequent complication of the common cold, hay fever, and other respiratory allergies. In fact, 15 to 21 percent of all antibiotic prescriptions for adults in outpatient care are for treating sinus infections. Unfortunately, most of those people don’t need the drugs. About one in four people who take antibiotics have side effects, such as stomach problems, dizziness, or rashes. Those problems clear up soon after stopping the drugs, but in rare cases antibiotics can cause severe allergic reactions. Overuse of antibiotics also promotes the growth of bacteria that can’t be controlled easily with drugs. That makes you more vulnerable to antibiotic-resistant infections and undermines the good that antibiotics can do for others.

This is where patients have some control: The best way to avoid bacterial sinus infections, and subsequent antibiotic use, is to prevent the infection in the first place. It has been well documented that sinus rinsing can help avoid bacterial infections. And for viral infections, nasal irrigation can bring great comfort to clear the passages, reduce inflammation, alleviate pain, and promote healing.

Related articles:
How Nasal Rinsing Helps Keep the Flu Away
Chronic Sinusitis and How Nasal Rinse Can Help
The Difference Between the Cold, Flu, and Seasonal Allergies
Safe Allergy Relief During Pregnancy