Rebuilding Your Gut Health After Antibiotic Use: What You Need to Know

Have antibiotics disrupted your gut health? Learn about the impact of antibiotics on gut bacteria and discover steps you can take to rebuild a healthy gut.

This article is based on reporting that features expert sources.

Gut Health Recovery from Antibiotics

When bacterial illnesses strike – whether it's a bacterial ear infection, sinus infection or pneumonia – it often means you’re prescribed a course of antibiotics.

For the vast majority of us, antibiotics will resolve the infection and leave us feeling better. But an unlucky minority can experience gastrointestinal side effects from taking antibiotics, and the very unlucky minority may find that these side effects linger long after they’ve finished their course of medication. If this has happened to you or someone you love, read on.

Antibiotics Are a Miracle

Antibiotics revolutionized human health and have extended life expectancy enormously. They’re a life-saving invention: Put simply, their job is to kill bacteria that cause relatively common conditions like urinary tract infections and strep throat before they can advance to potentially life-threatening conditions like kidney infections or pneumonia. Similarly, antibiotics prevent bacteria from growing in vulnerable places like wounds so that routine occurrences like scraped knees or ingrown toenails don’t turn into deeper skin infections (cellulitis) that can spread throughout the body and pose serious health risks.

While the first antibiotic, penicillin, was first discovered in 1928, antibiotics really only became widely available in the U.S. following World War II. The 1950s through the 1970s is sometimes referred to as “the antibiotic era,” as many types of antibiotics were discovered and commercialized during this period. Increased access to antibiotics and reduced mortality from infectious diseases is credited as one key driver in the skyrocketing of Americans’ average life expectancy in the 20th century. It jumped from about 47 years old in 1900 to 77 years old in 2000. ( Vaccination against infectious diseases is credited as another significant contributor to increased life expectancy in the 21st century.)

Side Effects of Antibiotics

Antibiotics have a long-standing reputation for being safe; as such, they are often prescribed for symptoms caused by viral conditions that they rarely effectively treat, like sore throats not caused by strep or other bacterial pathogens, says Dr. Eugene B. Chang, a professor and researcher at the University of Chicago and member of the scientific advisory board for the American Gastroenterological Association Center for Gut Microbiome Research and Education.

"The consequence is that we have been giving out antibiotics to not only people with sore throats and other viral ailments, but even to healthy people as a knee-jerk response if anybody comes in with an ailment," he says.

That's a problem for several reasons, not least of which is the collateral damage to the ecosystem of gut bacteria which we rely on to maintain many aspects of health. As a result, people often notice stomach or digestive problems after taking an antibiotic.

Long-term health problems after antibiotics

Frequent use of antibiotics early in life seems to be particularly problematic for future gut health and proper immune system function.

Research indicates that exposure to antibiotics in the first year of life is associated with later risk of developing an autoimmune condition called Crohn’s disease , which is a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). And the risk increases with each additional course of antibiotics in a dose dependent manner. Similarly, studies indicate that greater exposure to antibiotics in infancy and early childhood is also associated with increased risk of developing allergic diseases, such as asthma , allergic rhinitis (also known as hay fever) and even food allergy.

Even some women who take certain antibiotics while pregnant may negatively affect the microbiome of their future children, according to Chang's research in mice. "These microbes that you acquire from your mother are very important during early life because they educate the immune system not to react to the types of (healthy) microbes that live in your gut," he says.

As for the more immediate potential effects of antibiotic use, antibiotic associated diarrhea (AAD) is perhaps the most common. It's estimated to affect anywhere between 5% to 35% of people taking antibiotics. In most cases, it's relatively benign and self-resolving.

However, antibiotic associated diarrhea caused by opportunistic infection with a pathogenic species of bacteria called Clostridium difficile , or “C. diff,” is a particularly insidious form of AAD, representing an estimated 25% of all cases . C. diff can be difficult to treat and, in more severe cases, may lead to serious complications.

Restoring Balance in Your Gut

Ideally, unnecessary antibiotic use is avoided altogether. And this is especially true in infancy and early childhood. But for those of us old enough to read this, that proverbial ship has sailed, and we may find ourselves in the aftermath of treatment with a medically necessary course of antibiotics, wondering if the effects we’re experiencing will turn out to be permanent. (Typically they are not.)

While Chang says fecal microbiota transplants (FMT) are promising treatments for difficult-to-treat conditions like C. diff infections, for now, the most widespread approach for healing the gut is food-based.

If you’ve recently been on a course of antibiotics and found that you’re struggling with the aftermath of an out-of-whack digestive system, consider the following strategies:

1. Prevent or combat antibiotic-associated diarrhea with the right probiotic.

If you (or your child) is experiencing mild antibiotic-associated diarrhea , it would not be unreasonable to try one of the few probiotics that has demonstrated some degree of benefit. In a 2019 review of studies on the effect of various probiotics on children using antibiotics, researchers found evidence to suggest that a yeast-based probiotic called Saccharomyces boulardii and bacterial probiotics from the Lactobacillus rhamnosus species, taken in doses of 5 to 40 billion CFUs per day, may help shorten the duration of a diarrheal bout.

As for prevention of C. diff infection and associated diarrhea in particular? The 2020 clinical practice guidelines on probiotic use issued by the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) single out a few particular probiotic strains or combos with a modest degree of evidence to support their use in prevention of C. diff associated diarrhea.

Saccharomyces boulardii is one probiotic that is recommended for this purpose, and it is widely available in the U.S., including as a product marketed as Florastor. The AGA guidelines also list several specific multi-strain combos of probiotic bacteria, though in reality they can be very difficult to find in ready-to-use commercial products. (Of note, however, the guidelines go out of their way to note that people not at especially high risk of developing C. diff infection or who have cost or safety concerns with respect to probiotic use could reasonably opt out of using probiotics based on the modest degree of evidence in support of their use.)

So who’s at risk for developing C. diff? For starters, anyone who has already had it before and is facing another course of antibiotics of any kind. People over age 65 and who use a class of acid reducing medications called proton pump inhibitors also seem to be at higher risk. People planning to take one of the antibiotics most commonly implicated in C. diff infection could also consider an ounce of probiotic prevention. According to a 2001 review on Clostridium difficile associated diarrhea published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, the most common antibiotic culprits are clindamycin, ampicillin, amoxicillin and cephalosporins (antibiotics whose names start with ‘cef-‘ or ‘ceph-‘).

2. Diversify your intake of fiber-rich, whole foods.

If you’re worried that your gut is off-kilter or depleted after a source of antibiotics, the fastest and most effective way to restore normal balance is to nourish your inner ecosystem back to health by feeding it a steady diet of diverse fiber from whole plant foods. Fruits and vegetables, beans and whole grains, nuts and seeds all contain a cornucopia of fibers that feed various inhabitants of the gut microbiota. The most abundant, diverse and resilient gut microbiomes belong to people who eat the greatest variety of different plant foods each week.

Stark elimination diets starve various inhabitants of the microbiome, whereas diverse fiber diets promote the microbial diversity that’s considered the holy grail of gut health. Populate your diet with a diverse array of fibers from:

  • Legumes, like beans , chickpeas and lentils.
  • Whole fruits, not juices, from apples and melons to berries and citrus to avocado and other tropical fruits.
  • Vegetables, from crucifers like broccoli and cauliflower to seasonal options like squashes and asparagus to root veggies like beets, garlic, onions, sweet potatoes and more.
  • Whole grains, like oatmeal, whole wheat and barley.
  • Nuts , like peanuts, cashews, almonds and walnuts.
  • Seeds , like ground flax and chia to pumpkin and sunflower.

3. Support your gut’s most beneficial bacterial communities with prebiotics.

While probiotics hog the spotlight in the national and online conversation about gut health, in reality, prebiotics may be a far more effective way to selectively support some of the most beneficial, anti-inflammatory species of bacteria in your gut.

Prebiotics are fibers and other carbohydrates that we humans cannot digest, but that are preferentially fermented by whichever Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria species and strains happen to reside in your unique gut microbiome. They are some of the most beneficial inhabitants that our gut microbiomes harbor, as they produce anti-inflammatory compounds called short chain fatty acids and lower the pH of the colon, making it less hospitable for pathogenic (disease-causing) bacteria to colonize. Nourishing the best of your gut’s own native flora so they become more abundant seems to be a more reliable way to increase their abundance than actually taking probiotic supplements with random strains of these bacteria that may not so easily colonize your well-established inner ecosystem.

Prebiotic fiber is found naturally in foods like onions, garlic, whole wheat, barley, artichokes, jicama and beans. Inulin, or chicory root fiber, is also a prebiotic, though many people find it to be uncomfortably gassy . If you want the benefits of prebiotic fiber but find most such foods or supplements to be too gassy to tolerate comfortably, a form of prebiotic supplements called B-GOS (Bimuno) or Human Milk Oligosaccharides (HMOs) may be easier to tolerate.

4. Reduce intake of food additives that may disrupt the gut microbiome and the gut’s barrier function.

Certain highly processed foods contain additives that researchers are increasingly concerned could have an adverse effect on the gut microbiome and the mucosal lining that serves as an important barrier between the immune-cell laden gut wall and the bacterial inhabitants of our microbiome. It’s best that these two entities keep their distance!

Specific ingredients of concern include the artificial sweetener sucralose, the thickener maltodextrin and various ingredients called emulsifiers , including carrageenan, polysorbate-80 and carboxymethycellulose. These ingredients can be found in everything from coffee creamers, ice cream and non-dairy milks to salty snacks, frozen foods, low calorie beverages and fast food.

While the vast majority of research that calls these specific ingredients’ impact on the gut into question is based on animal models, there are a growing number of large human studies that link higher intake of ultra-high processed foods with a significantly increased risk of a form of inflammatory bowel disease called Crohn’s disease. While we can’t yet draw a definitive straight line between these specific ingredients and a compromised gut microbiome or barrier, it would certainly be prudent to audit your usual diet and try finding less processed replacements for staple foods that contain some of these ingredients.

5. Rebalance your lifestyle.

Just as the gut affects nearly every aspect of health, nearly every aspect of health affects the gut. This includes healthy sleep patterns and regular exercise – both of which have been shown to impact the health of the gut microbiome. Niki Strealy, a registered dietitian in Portland, Oregon, who specializes in digestive health, says that "getting adequate sleep and managing stress and getting enough exercise – those are all important pieces of the puzzle as well.”

Best Foods for Gut Health

Girl works at a computer and eats fast food. Unhealthy food: chips, crackers, candy, waffles, cola. Junk food, concept. (Girl works at a computer and eats fast food. Unhealthy food: chips, crackers, candy, waffles, cola. Junk food, concept., ASCII, 12

The U.S. News Health team delivers accurate information about health, nutrition and fitness, as well as in-depth medical condition guides. All of our stories rely on multiple, independent sources and experts in the field, such as medical doctors and licensed nutritionists. To learn more about how we keep our content accurate and trustworthy, read our  editorial guidelines .

Chang is the Martin Boyer Distinguished Professor of Medicine and the Director of the Microbiome Medicine Program at the University of Chicago. He is also a member of the scientific advisory board for the American Gastroenterological Association Center for Gut Microbiome Research and Education.

Strealy is an Oregon-based registered dietitian nutritionist specializing in gut health.

Tags: digestive disorders , antibiotics , diet and nutrition , patient advice , digestive health , gastroenterology

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How to Avoid Stomach Pain when Taking Antibiotics

Last Updated: January 10, 2024 Fact Checked

Taking Antibiotics Correctly

Alleviating stomach pain.

This article was medically reviewed by Roy Nattiv, MD and by wikiHow staff writer, Bailey Cho . Dr. Roy Nattiv is a Board-Certified Pediatric Gastroenterologist in Los Angeles, California. With over 20 years of experience he specializes in a broad range of pediatric gastrointestinal and nutritional illnesses such as constipation, diarrhea, reflux, food allergies, poor weight gain, SIBO, IBD, and IBS. He completed his pediatric residency at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, and his fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). While at UCSF, he was a California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) fellowship trainee and was awarded the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition (NASPGHAN) Fellow to Faculty Award in Pediatric IBD Research. Dr. Nattiv received his undergrad degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and his medical degree (MD) from the Sackler School of Medicine in Tel Aviv, Israel. There are 25 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 489,787 times.

While antibiotics work well to fight off bacterial infections, they often disrupt your digestive system. Stomach pain is a common side effect because antibiotics kill the beneficial bacteria in your gut. [1] X Trustworthy Source Cleveland Clinic Educational website from one of the world's leading hospitals Go to source Luckily, there are several things you can do to reduce your chances of stomach pain when taking your medication.

Things You Should Know

  • Follow your doctor's instructions while taking antibiotics, and note whether they should be taken with or without food.
  • Build up the good bacteria in your body by eating foods like yogurt and garlic.
  • Drink chamomile tea, ginger tea, or rice water to soothe stomach pain.
  • Use a heating pad to help relax your body and alleviate pain.

Step 1 Follow your doctor’s instructions exactly.

  • Your instructions will include how many days you should take the antibiotics, how many times per day to take them, and whether you should take them with food. [3] X Trustworthy Source Cleveland Clinic Educational website from one of the world's leading hospitals Go to source
  • Unless the label indicates otherwise, store your antibiotics in a cool, dark, and dry place. [4] X Trustworthy Source MedlinePlus Collection of medical information sourced from the US National Library of Medicine Go to source
  • Some antibiotics may need to be stored in the refrigerator, between 35.6 °F (2.0 °C) to 46.4 °F (8.0 °C). [5] X Research source Check the storage instructions of your medication before refrigerating it, and do not freeze antibiotics. [6] X Trustworthy Source MedlinePlus Collection of medical information sourced from the US National Library of Medicine Go to source

Step 2 Determine if your antibiotics should be taken with food.

  • Some antibiotics are meant to be taken on an empty stomach, such as flucloxacillin and tetracycline. [9] X Research source Do not take food with these drugs because it may affect their absorbancy and increase your risk of side effects like nausea and diarrhea.
  • If you need to take your antibiotics on an empty stomach, take them about one hour before a meal, or 2 hours after a meal. Set an alarm if you need help remembering the time. [10] X Trustworthy Source National Health Service (UK) Public healthcare system of the UK Go to source
  • Certain foods may affect the absorption of some antibiotics. For example, milk and other dairy products can interfere with the absorption of tetracycline by 50-90%. [11] X Trustworthy Source PubMed Central Journal archive from the U.S. National Institutes of Health Go to source This may cause stomach pain, so ask your doctor if you need to avoid specific foods when taking your medication.

Step 3 Make sure to take the correct amount of the antibiotic each day.

  • If you have a hard time remembering if you have already taken your medication, hang a calendar where you keep your medications. When you take your antibiotics for the day, write it on your calendar so you do not accidentally double dose.
  • Your prescription will be written for the amount of time it will take the antibiotic to fight off the bacterial infection. If you don't take your antibiotic as prescribed, the remaining bacteria in your body may restart an infection, or the antibiotics may not work as well the next time they're needed. [14] X Trustworthy Source Cleveland Clinic Educational website from one of the world's leading hospitals Go to source

Step 4 Increase the amount of good bacteria in your body.

  • Plain, unsweetened yogurt is an excellent source of probiotics or good bacteria. Eat 1 or 2 plain Greek yogurts a day when taking antibiotics, and look for yogurt that contains live, active culture for best results. [18] X Trustworthy Source Cleveland Clinic Educational website from one of the world's leading hospitals Go to source
  • Garlic is a good source of prebiotics, which provide nourishment for probiotics. [19] X Trustworthy Source PubMed Central Journal archive from the U.S. National Institutes of Health Go to source Other foods with prebiotics include oats, bananas, blueberries, asparagus, spinach, artichokes, onions, leeks, flax seed, and chia seeds. [20] X Research source
  • Other sources of good bacteria include miso, sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi, and kefir. [21] X Trustworthy Source Harvard Medical School Harvard Medical School's Educational Site for the Public Go to source
  • Board certified gastroenterologist Peter Gardner says that your microbiome plays “a huge role [in your body], in everything from inflammation to building muscle.” This means the levels of bacteria in your gut may affect your gastrointestinal system and overall health.

Step 5 Tell your doctor about past experiences you've had with antibiotics.

  • Your doctor may also adjust the dose of your medication to reduce your chances of stomach pain, or prescribe anti-sickness medication to lessen symptoms like nausea or vomiting. [23] X Research source
  • Certain antibiotics may cause an allergic reaction, such as an itchy rash. If you experience blistering skin, facial swelling, or breathing issues (wheezing), call 911 immediately. [24] X Trustworthy Source Cleveland Clinic Educational website from one of the world's leading hospitals Go to source

Step 1 Drink a cup of chamomile tea.

  • Bring water to a boil, then pour over a chamomile tea bag .
  • Cover your teacup or pot, and allow your tea to steep for 15 to 20 minutes. The longer your tea steeps, the stronger it will be.
  • If you like, add a teaspoon of honey or another sweetener of your choice.

Step 2 Apply a

  • If you don't have a hot pack, fill a sock with dried pinto beans or rice. Tie your sock and put it in the microwave for 30 seconds, or until the ingredients are warm to the touch.
  • Don't let your hot pack get too hot. You want it to feel warm to the touch.
  • Find a comfortable place to lie down, where you can balance the hot pack against your stomach. Leave it in place for at least 15 minutes. You may repeat as often as you'd like to.

Step 3 Drink some rice water.

  • Make your own rice water by cooking 1/2 cup of plain white rice with 2 cups of water. Bring the rice-water mixture to a boil, then turn down the heat and allow it to simmer for 20 minutes, or until the rice is tender.
  • Pour the rice and water through a sieve, reserving the rice for a bland meal. Catch the rice water in a bowl or kitchen pot.
  • Fill a drinking glass with the rice water, and enjoy it warm. If you like, add a spoonful of honey.

Step 4 Enjoy a hot cup of fresh ginger tea.

  • Wash, peel, and roughly chop 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5.1 cm) of ginger root. Bring 1 to 2 cups of water to a boil, then add your ginger. The more water you use, the more diluted your tea will be. If you steep the ginger in water, your tea will be stronger.
  • Boil for 3 to 5 minutes, then steep the ginger for another 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Remove the ginger tea from the heat, strain out any chunks of ginger, and pour your fresh ginger tea into a mug or teapot.
  • If you like, add a spoonful of honey or other sweetener. Some people enjoy a slice of lemon with their hot ginger tea.

Foods to Eat and Avoid & Drinks to Soothe Stomach Pain

how to stop stomach pain from antibiotics

Expert Q&A

Video . by using this service, some information may be shared with youtube..

  • If you experience diarrhea while taking antibiotics, drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. [30] X Trustworthy Source Cleveland Clinic Educational website from one of the world's leading hospitals Go to source Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Board certified gastroenterologist Muhammed Khan says to “stay away from acid, like lemonade or soda” when you have an upset stomach. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

how to stop stomach pain from antibiotics

  • Only take medication that is prescribed for you, and do not share your antibiotics with another person. [31] X Trustworthy Source Cleveland Clinic Educational website from one of the world's leading hospitals Go to source Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • If you develop any side effects while taking antibiotics or right after finishing them, talk to your healthcare provider. [32] X Trustworthy Source Cleveland Clinic Educational website from one of the world's leading hospitals Go to source Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • If you are thinking about taking another medication to ease your stomach pain, tell your doctor before doing so. Some drug interactions can cause negative results. [33] X Trustworthy Source Cleveland Clinic Educational website from one of the world's leading hospitals Go to source Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Avoid taking antibiotics if you do not have a bacterial infection. Antibiotics do not kill viruses, such as colds or the flu, and taking antibiotics when you do not need them can lead to antibiotic resistance. [34] X Trustworthy Source Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Main public health institute for the US, run by the Dept. of Health and Human Services Go to source Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

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About This Article

Roy Nattiv, MD

Medical Disclaimer

The content of this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, examination, diagnosis, or treatment. You should always contact your doctor or other qualified healthcare professional before starting, changing, or stopping any kind of health treatment.


To avoid stomach pain when you’re on antibiotics, always follow your doctor’s instructions for taking the medication. For example, find out whether you should take the antibiotics with food. It’s also important to take the right dosage and space out your dosages correctly. Since antibiotics can kill off the good bacteria in your body as well as the bad ones, eat probiotic foods, such as yogurt, to keep your gut flora healthy. Finally, let your doctor know if you have a history of stomach pain with antibiotics so they can change or adjust your prescription if necessary. For more advice from our Medical co-author, including how to treat antibiotic-related stomach pain when it happens, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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How To Stop Stomach Pain From Antibiotics?

Read time: 9 min

Posted on: Jul. 08, 2022

Jessica Guht

Studies suggest that there is a strong link between antibiotic use and stomach pain. Population studies of children, for instance, find that antibiotic-associated abdominal pain occurred in around 9.3 percent of patients, with constipation affecting 8.0 percent. 

Further studies in adults confirm that antibiotics are major disruptors of gut microbiota. Clinical consequences of antibiotic use can include cramps, bloating and diarrhea.

Table of Contents

Is it normal for antibiotics to make your stomach hurt, why do antibiotics make your stomach hurt, how long does stomach pain from antibiotics last, how to stop stomach pain from antibiotics, how to prevent stomach pain from antibiotics, how else can antibiotics affect your stomach, when to see a doctor, key takeaways.

Because of the way that antibiotics work, stomach problems are a common complaint. According to research on a panel of antibiotics (including some of the most commonly prescribed), “gastrointestinal and dermatologic events are the most frequent,” with problems occurring in 5.5 percent of patients.

Stomach complaints emerge during and after antibiotic usage because of the critical role gut microbes play in digestive health. Bacteria are responsible for bulking up stools (so that they pass more easily through the colon), absorbing certain nutrients from your diet, breaking down hard-to-digest sugars, sugar alcohols, and fiber, and releasing beneficial compounds into your bloodstream, such as short-chain fatty acids. When antibiotics disrupt these functions, it can lead to a cascade of unwanted symptoms and side effects such as stomach pain.

Antibiotics can’t tell the difference between good and bad bacteria in your body. Therefore, they kill both the infection-causing and health-supporting microbes indiscriminately.

When gut microbiota dies, it can have a range of unwanted side effects including diarrhea, stomach cramps, vomiting, and nausea. Gut flora may return to normal afterwards, particularly if you are on a short course, but symptoms may last for a couple of weeks. 

Antibiotic-related stomach pain typically lasts for a few days after starting the course of antibiotics. In some cases, the stomach pain may be more severe and may require over-the-counter medication for relief.

If the stomach pain is accompanied by other symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, it is important to contact a healthcare provider as soon as possible. This could be a sign of a more serious reaction to the antibiotic.

Most side effects from antibiotics resolve on their own within a few days, but it is important to follow the instructions of a healthcare provider if they are severe or do not improve.

Taking antibiotics is often necessary. If infections develop, they can become life-threatening. Fortunately, there are several things that you can do to stop stomach pain from antibiotics. Here’s a rundown:

1. Consume Prebiotic-Rich Foods

Prebiotics are not the same as probiotics. Probiotics, such as kefir and sauerkraut, contain live cultures which multiply once they reach your gut. By contrast, prebiotics are foods that contain substances that gut microbiota like to eat, such as fiber. 

Eating plenty of prebiotics, such as nuts, peas, lentils, berries, beans, and bananas, while taking antibiotics can lessen the impact on your gut flora . Even though the medicines will kill billions of individual bacteria, prebiotics provide food that allows them to multiply faster, allowing them to continue their regular function for longer.

2. Eat at the same time as taking your antibiotics

You’ll notice that the labels on some antibiotics recommend that you take them with food while others suggest an empty stomach. Most antibiotics absorb through the stomach lining best when the stomach is empty. However, manufacturers of antibiotics known to cause gastrointestinal distress will often instruct patients to take them with meals. The presence of food may help to reduce the impact of anti-microbial substances on the gut flora, protecting it from damage.  

3. Eat Yogurt

Yogurt is a fermented food that contains billions of healthy live cultures. Eating it can help to repopulate your gut microbiome during and after a course of antibiotics.

If dairy causes gastrointestinal problems for you, try plant-based alternatives, such as tempeh, kimchi, or miso. Adding multiple probiotics to your diet may help to improve the diversity of your gut flora so that it continues functioning normally. 

4. Add garlic to your diet

Garlic is a source of prebiotics. And it’s delicious too. Adding it regularly to your meals while taking antibiotics can help you limit the damage to your gut microbiota. 

5. Keep your portions small

Lastly, you’ll want to keep your food portions on the smaller side. Large servings can push the balance of bacteria in your stomach even further out of whack after a course of antibiotics, worsening cramping and bloating. Don’t worry: you can return to your normal eating patterns once the course is over. 

6. Use probiotics

Probiotics are live bacteria that are similar to the beneficial bacteria found in the gut. Taking probiotics while on antibiotics can help to reduce the risk of gastrointestinal side effects. Probiotics work by restoring the balance of gut bacteria, which can be disrupted by antibiotics. They can also help to break down food and absorb nutrients more effectively. As a result, probiotics can be an effective way to reduce stomach pain caused by antibiotics.

7. Drink more water

One way to help reduce these side effects is to drink plenty of water. Water helps to flush the digestive system, which can help to reduce the risk of constipation and other issues. In addition, water helps to thin the mucus that lines the stomach, making it less likely to irritate the lining of the stomach. 

8. Vitamin K

Vitamin K helps to reduce inflammation and soothes the lining of the stomach, providing relief from pain. In addition, it helps to restore the normal balance of bacteria in the gut, which can further reduce discomfort.

9. Take antacids or other medications

Antacids, such as Tums and Rolaids, can help neutralize stomach acid and provide relief from stomach pain. Other medications that may be recommended include histamine blockers, such as cimetidine (Tagamet) and ranitidine (Zantac), and proton pump inhibitors, such as omeprazole (Prilosec) and lansoprazole (Prevacid). These medications can help to reduce stomach acid production and provide relief from pain.

There are a few things you can do to help prevent stomach pain from antibiotics. First, take your antibiotic with food. This will help to protect your stomach lining from being irritated by the medication.

Second, try to take probiotics at the same time as your antibiotic. Probiotics can help to restore the balance of bacteria in your gut, which can reduce inflammation and prevent stomach pain.

Finally, be sure to drink plenty of fluids. This will help to keep your digestive system moving and prevent constipation, which can exacerbate stomach pain

Antibiotics affect people differently. For some, stomach pain will be the only symptom, while others will experience a range of issues. Other common side effects of antibiotic use include loss of appetite (or feeling uncharacteristically full all the time), diarrhea, vomiting, and feeling like you are about to be sick.

Again, the vast majority of these symptoms should end once you finish your course of treatment. However, recovery may take longer. Studies reveal that it takes most gut bacteria species between one and two months to repopulate after an antibiotic course. 

Experiencing mild stomach pain after taking antibiotics for a few days isn’t usually anything to worry about. In most cases, the pain only lasts for part of the course. For instance, if you are on a seven-day course, you might only have stomach pain for the first three days. 

However, if the pain becomes severe, you’ll need to talk to a doctor. Severe pain could suggest damaging disruption of gut microbiota, constipation, and uncontrollable bowel spasms.

Get Help From an Online Doctor

If you are taking antibiotics and your stomach pain becomes severe, seek medical attention from an online doctor . They can talk to you about the antibiotics you are taking, your symptoms, and whether you require immediate medical attention. 

Signs of severe gastrointestinal distress include: 

  • Persistent nausea and vomiting that won’t go away
  • Vomiting blood
  • Constipation combined with vomiting
  • A sudden and severe pain in your stomach
  • Bowel bleeding
  • Yellowing of tissues around the eyes
  • Stomach complaints that for several days
  • Issues while pregnant
  • Abnormal bloating, tenderness, or swelling of the abdominal region

In some cases, you may need to stop taking the antibiotics you are on right now and switch to a different course.

  • Antibiotics disrupt the gut’s microbiota
  • Changes in metabolism can result in stomach pain
  • You can reduce the risk of stomach pain while on antibiotics by eating prebiotics and probiotics, taking pills with meals, and avoiding large portions
  • If you experience severe or persistent pain while taking antibiotics, contact your doctor for urgent care
  • Mohsen S, Dickinson JA, Somayaji R. Update on the adverse effects of antimicrobial therapies in community practice. Can Fam Physician. 2020 Sep; 66(9):651-659. PMID: 32933978; PMCID: PMC7491661 .
  • Ramirez J, Guarner F, Bustos Fernandez L, Maruy A, Sdepanian VL and Cohen H (2020) Antibiotics as Major Disruptors of Gut Microbiota. Front. Cell. Infect. Microbiol. 10:572912. Available from:  
  • Baù M, Moretti A, Bertoni E, Vazzoler V, Luini C, Agosti M, Salvatore S. Risk and Protective Factors for Gastrointestinal Symptoms associated with Antibiotic Treatment in Children: A Population Study. Pediatr Gastroenterol Hepatol Nutr. 2020 Jan;23(1):35-48. Epub 2020 Jan 8. PMID: 31988874; PMCID: PMC6966223. Doi: 10.5223/pghn.2020.23.1.35
  • Heta S, Robo I. The Side Effects of the Most Commonly Used Group of Antibiotics in Periodontal Treatments. Med Sci (Basel). 2018 Jan 18;6(1):6. doi: 10.3390/medsci6010006 .

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Does Your Stomach Hurt After Taking Antibiotics?

Nov 15, 2020 | Antibiotics , Blog , Stomach Ulcers

Antibiotics are pro players when it comes to eliminating bacterial infections inside the body. But antibiotics don’t just purge the sickness causing bad bacteria. They also kill the “good” bacteria present in your gut – and that’s not a good thing. The gut bacteria or gut flora maintains the equilibrium of nutrients in the stomach, and a disturbance in this ecosystem can make you sick. These bacteria aid digestion, help the production of vital nutrients, and keep the immune system up and running. When antibiotics compromise gut bacteria, you may experience stomach pain, constipation, vomiting, and nausea.

How long does stomach pain from antibiotics last?

The pain can last for a few days and rarely for the entire period while taking antibiotics. In case the pain is mild, follow the below measures to cure a stomach ache. If you have severe pain, stop taking the dose and get instant help from your gastroenterologist.

To reduce the side effects of antibiotics and stop stomach pain and other symptoms, it’s essential to keep your good bacteria safe. Here are some yummy food items that can help you counter stomach problems after antibiotics.

What to take with antibiotics to stop the stomach pain?

Yogurt is the best of best in reducing the side effects of antibiotics on your stomach. It is made by milk fermentation and contains many live enzymes that help digestion and provide a rehabilitating environment to gut flora. Some other fermented foods that may contain good bacteria are tempeh, salami, cheese. But before you buy them, make sure they have the label of “live and active culture.”

Probiotic supplements work in the same way yogurt does. They can be easily found in the form or pill or beverages and are immediately useful. If you are feeling sick after taking antibiotics, take a dose of probiotics during your treatment course.

Garlic contains prebiotics. Adding garlic to your diet is an excellent way to stop stomach pain from occurring. Garlic hates harmful gut bacteria and favors good bacteria, keeping your stomach healthy. You can add garlic to your menu in various forms, either by cooking or adding raw chopped pieces. Some other foods that contain low levels of prebiotics are bananas, onions, and chicory root.

Eating fiber is a healthy way to help the growth of beneficial bacteria. But one should avoid taking high-fiber rich foods with ongoing antibiotic treatment since it can disturb the absorption of the medicine. After finishing the antibiotics, eating fiber-rich foods like broccoli, peas, lentils, beans, whole grains can stimulate good bacteria growth and help relieve stomach pain.

Another adverse effect antibiotics can have on your body is the alleviation of vitamin K levels. Vitamin K helps your body recover from cuts and wounds by aiding blood clot formation. To maintain the levels of this essential vitamin, you can eat spinach, collards, parsley, kale.

While adding some specifics to your diet, there are certain items that you should avoid eating or drinking during your antibiotics treatment. To learn more about the side effects of antibiotics on your stomach and ways to stop stomach pain. Get help from the doctors at Gastroenterology Diagnostic Center. To schedule, an appointment Call us today at 281-357-1977 .

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What Are the Side Effects of Taking Antibiotics?

Antibiotics can help fight bacterial infections that won't clear up on their own, but they can have side effects ranging from mild to severe.

how to stop stomach pain from antibiotics

Antibiotics are drugs that help treat certain bacterial infections such as strep throat, whooping cough, or urinary tract infections. The medications work by killing bacteria or preventing the bacteria from growing. They can also cause a multitude of side effects, ranging from mild to severe. Taking precautions may help you avoid or better manage certain side effects.

Antibiotic Side Effects

Knowing which side effects you might experience when taking antibiotics can help you identify whether you’re experiencing any reaction to the medication. Being able to identify the symptoms can also help you know when to get medical attention.

Headaches are a common side effect of taking certain antibiotics. These antibiotics include:

Augmentin (amoxicillin plus clavulanate): This treats bacterial infections of the ears, lungs, sinus, skin, and urinary tract, and certain sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Keflex (cephalexin): This treats pneumonia and other respiratory tract infections.

Monurol (fosfomycin): This treats urinary tract infections.

Nitrofurantoin: This treats urinary tract infections. Brand names include Furadantin, Macrobid, and Macrodantin.

Vancomycin: This treats bacteria-caused colitis and inflammation of the colon. Brand names include Firvanq and Vancocin.

Quinolones: This group of antibiotics includes norfloxacin, ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin, and moxifloxacin which all treat different types of bacterial infections.

If your antibiotic treatment is causing headaches, over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers like Tylenol or Motrin may help bring relief .

Digestive Problems

Most antibiotics can cause a range of gastrointestinal issues. Some side effects may include:

  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Abdominal pain
  • Lack of appetite
  • Constipation
  • Nausea and vomiting

While you may not be able to completely avoid gastrointestinal distress while taking antibiotics, you can help manage your symptoms. Staying hydrated can help manage some digestive issues.

If you're experiencing severe digestive upset that doesn't go away, speak with a healthcare provider. This could be a sign of Clostridium difficile , an antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection that causes diarrhea that can lead to severe colon damage. This infection can even be life-threatening.

Sensitivity to Sunlight

Some antibiotics can cause photosensitivity, meaning your eyes and skin become more sensitive to sunlight. Photosensitivity can cause skin irritations or even an allergic reaction due to sun exposure, though that reaction may be delayed up to several days.

Antibiotics that may cause photosensitivity include:

  • Cipro (ciprofloxacin): This treats pneumonia, gonorrhea, infectious diarrhea, and bacterial infections of the skin, bone, joint, abdomen, and prostate.
  • Levofloxacin: This treats pneumonia, and bacterial infections of the kidneys, prostate, and skin.
  • Ofloxacin: This treats pneumonia, and bacterial infections of the skin, bladder, reproductive organs, and prostate.
  • Primsol (trimethoprim): This treats urinary tract infections, traveler’s diarrhea, and can be used in combination with other drugs to treat pneumonia.
  • Achromycin V (tetracycline): This treats pneumonia, infections of the skin, eye, lymphatic, intestinal, genital, and urinary systems, and certain infections carried by ticks, lice, and mites.
  • Doxycycline: This is used to treat or prevent anthrax. It can also be used with other medications to treat rosacea.

It is not possible to prevent the development of photosensitivity while taking antibiotics, but you can take steps to protect yourself from its effects by limiting sun exposure. You can take precautions against the sun by:

  • Wearing UV-protected sunglasses to shield your eyes
  • Choosing long-sleeved shirts and long pants when going out in the sun
  • Opting for a broad-spectrum sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher to protect against UV rays
  • Staying in the shade or indoors when the sun is at its strongest, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Grabbing a wide-brimmed hat to keep the sun off your head and face

Yeast Infections and Other Fungal Infections

Antibiotics work to fight bacteria causing your infection, but they can also kill off the “good” bacteria in your body. By getting rid of beneficial bacteria, antibiotics can make you more likely to develop a fungal infection like a yeast infection.

Here are a few things you can do to prevent this from happening:

  • Ask your doctor about taking an antifungal with your antibiotics if you're prone to fungal infections.
  • Avoid taking antibiotics unless absolutely necessary.
  • Practice good hygiene like promptly changing out of wet or sweaty clothes.

Tooth Staining

Older-class tetracycline antibiotics may cause permanent tooth staining in children under 8 years old.

Evidence suggests that a short course of doxycycline, a newer type of tetracycline, doesn't cause teeth-related side effects like staining.

Make sure to talk to a healthcare provider about the risk of tooth staining before taking tetracycline.

Research shows there may be a link between tendon damage and antibiotics, though this side effect is uncommon.

One study suggests that the antibiotic levofloxacin may increase the risk of tendon ruptures. Levofloxacin is part of a group of antibiotics called fluoroquinolones. Other antibiotics within this same class are not associated with the same risk.


There may also be some complications while taking antibiotics. Here are a few potential reactions to keep in mind. 

Medication Interactions

Taking antibiotics alongside other medications can sometimes have harmful effects. A healthcare provider or a pharmacist can tell you whether antibiotics will interact with your current medications.

Some antibiotics may interact with blood thinners. For example, taking the antibiotic cephalosporin may not be safe if you are currently taking a blood thinner such as Warfarin.

One type of antibiotic, rifamycin, may interact with birth control pills by lowering the pill’s effectiveness.

Additionally, tetracyclines, macrolides, and fluoroquinolones can interact with various medications.

Avoid mixing alcohol with antibiotics since this may increase your risk of adverse effects like nausea, headache, and dizziness. In some cases, alcohol may reduce the efficacy of certain antibiotics. However, the relationship between alcohol and antibiotics needs more research.

Allergic Reactions

Some people are allergic to certain antibiotics. Healthcare providers will typically ask whether you're allergic to antibiotics before prescribing them. If you've never taken them before, you might not know you have an allergy until you develop symptoms of a reaction.

A mild allergic reaction might involve:

  • Skin flushing

A severe reaction to antibiotics can be life-threatening. Signs of a severe allergic reaction, or anaphylaxis, may include hives; swelling of the tongue, throat, or lips; trouble breathing, or difficulty swallowing.

If you're having what you suspect is an allergic reaction to antibiotics, seek immediate medical care.

Bacterial Resistance

Overuse of antibiotics can contribute to bacterial resistance, leaving people vulnerable to serious complications from bacterial infections.

Bacterial resistance occurs when bacteria in your body develop a defense against antibiotics. This can cause antibiotics to become ineffective against new bacterial infections. Bacteria can then instead grow and multiply.

A Quick Review

Antibiotics are drugs that help treat certain bacterial infections such as strep throat or a urinary tract infection by killing bacteria or preventing the bacteria from growing. Like most other medications, antibiotics can cause certain side effects, some more serious than others. These side effects may include a headache, digestive problems, or a rash on the skin. 

There are ways to limit your risk of experiencing minor side effects. For instance, taking OTC pain relievers can help treat a headache. Taking OTC medicines like Pepto-Bismol can help treat diarrhea while taking antibiotics.

Antibiotics can also lead to complications, such as medication interactions, allergic reactions, and risk for bacterial resistance. 

If you are concerned about your side effects, talk to a healthcare provider about your options. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Antibiotics Use Question and Answers.

Medline Plus. Antibiotics.

Mohsen S, Dickenson J, Somayaji R. Update on the adverse effects of antimicrobial therapies in community practice. Can Fam Physician. 2020;66(9):651-659.

Medline Plus. Amoxicillin and clavulanic acid.

Medline Plus. Cephalexin.

Medline Plus. Fosfomycin.

Medline Plus. Nitrofurantoin.

Medline Plus. Vancomycin.

Yan A, Bryant EE. Quinolones. StatPearls. 2022.

Medline Plus. Headaches.

National Institute on Aging. Concerned about constipation?

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Treatment for diarrhea.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Antibiotics aren't always the answer.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The sun and your medicine.

Medline Plus. Ciproflaxin.

Medline Plus. Levofloxacin.

Medline Plus. Ofloxacin.

Medline Plus. Trimethoprim.

Medline Plus. Achromycin.

Medline Plus. Doxycycline.

Sobel J. Patient education: vaginal yeast infection (back to the basics). Up To Date; 2022.

Office on Women's Health. Vaginal yeast infections.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Research on doxycycline and tooth staining.

Mozena J, Jones C, Mehndirattaet V. How antibiotics can affect Achilles tendinopathy in athletes. Podiatry Today. 2018.

Baik S, Lau J, et al. Association between tendon ruptures and use of fluoroquinolone, and other oral antibiotics: A 10-year retrospective study of 1 million US senior Medicare beneficiaries. BMJ. 2020;10. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2019-034844

Lane M, Zeringue A, McDonald, J. Serious bleeding events due to warfarin and antibiotic co-prescription in a cohort of veterans. The American journal of medicine. 2014;127(7), 657–663.e2. doi:10.1016/j.amjmed.2014.01.044

Simmons K, Haddad L, et al. Drug interactions between non-rifamycin antibiotics and hormonal contraception: a systematic review. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2018;88-97.

NHS. Interactions: antibiotics.

Mergenhagen K, Wattengel B, Skelly M, et al. Fact versus fiction: a review of the evidence behind alcohol and antibiotic interactions. Antimicrobial agents and chemotherapy. 202;64(3), e02167-19.doi:10.1128/AAC.02167-19

Blumenthal K., Peter J, Trubiano J, Phillips E. Antibiotic allergy. Lancet. 2019;393(10167):183–198. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(18)32218-9

American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. Anaphylaxis.

Medline Plus. Antibiotic resistance.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About antimicrobial resistance.

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Antibiotics and Stomach Pain: What You Need to Know

  • Updated on May 25, 2023

Antibiotics are a common treatment for bacterial infections, but they can also cause side effects like stomach pain. If you’re experiencing discomfort after taking antibiotics, it’s important to understand the possible causes and seek medical attention if necessary.

Why Do Antibiotics Cause Stomach Pain?

Antibiotics work by killing harmful bacteria in your body, but they can also kill beneficial bacteria that help with digestion. This can lead to an imbalance in your gut microbiome, which can cause stomach pain, bloating, and diarrhea.

In some cases, antibiotics can also irritate the lining of your stomach and cause inflammation, which can lead to pain and discomfort.

What Can You Do About Antibiotic-Related Stomach Pain?

If you’re experiencing stomach pain after taking antibiotics, there are a few things you can do to alleviate your symptoms:

  • Take probiotics to restore the balance of bacteria in your gut
  • Eat a healthy diet that includes plenty of fiber and prebiotic foods
  • Avoid foods that can irritate your stomach, such as spicy or fatty foods
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water

If your symptoms persist or worsen, it’s important to seek medical attention. At Nao Medical, our experienced healthcare providers can help diagnose the cause of your stomach pain and provide effective treatment options.

Book an Appointment with Nao Medical Today

Don’t suffer in silence. Book an appointment with Nao Medical today and get the care you deserve. Our compassionate and knowledgeable staff will work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan that addresses your unique needs and concerns.

Visit our appointment page to schedule your visit now.

What are the common side effects of antibiotics?

Common side effects of antibiotics include stomach pain, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.

How long does it take for antibiotics to cause stomach pain?

Antibiotic-related stomach pain can occur within a few hours of taking the medication or several days later.

Can probiotics help with antibiotic-related stomach pain?

Yes, taking probiotics can help restore the balance of bacteria in your gut and alleviate stomach pain caused by antibiotics.

Key Takeaways

  • Antibiotics can cause stomach pain by disrupting the balance of bacteria in your gut or irritating the lining of your stomach.
  • If you’re experiencing stomach pain after taking antibiotics, try taking probiotics, eating a healthy diet, and avoiding foods that can irritate your stomach.
  • If your symptoms persist or worsen, seek medical attention from Nao Medical.
  • Posted By: Dr. Nao

Disclaimer: The information presented in this article is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered, construed or interpreted as legal or professional advice, guidance or opinion.

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What Causes Stomach Cramps? (And How to Get Relief)

  • Common Causes
  • Other Causes
  • When to Seek Medical Care

Stomach cramps can affect anyone and often result from gas, indigestion, constipation, or muscle contractions. Mild stomach cramps typically resolve on their own. However, you should contact a healthcare provider for severe and persistent abdominal (stomach) cramps (lasting more than a day) or cramps that occur with vomiting, diarrhea, or fever.

This article discusses what causes stomach cramps, when to contact a healthcare provider, and strategies for relief and prevention. 

Drazen Zigic / Getty Images

Common Causes of Stomach Cramps

The following three pain characteristics can help differentiate the underlying cause of stomach cramps:

  • Generalized or localized : Generalized pain occurs in over half of your stomach. Localized pain stays in one area. 
  • Cramping or burning : Cramping is a dull or squeezing pain. Burning is a gnawing pain.
  • Continuous or intermittent : Continuous pain doesn’t stop. Intermittent pain comes and goes. 

This section reviews the leading causes of stomach cramps, pain characteristics, and additional symptoms.

Gas and Indigestion

Excessive gas causes generalized stomach cramping, typically after eating gas-producing foods like beans. You may notice relief after burping, passing gas, or having a bowel movement. 

Indigestion causes a burning discomfort in the epigastric area (upper middle abdomen). You may notice it with overeating, consuming fatty or spicy foods, certain medications, or reflux.

Food Poisoning

Food poisoning causes generalized cramping a few hours after consuming contaminated food. You may also experience nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Viral Gastroenteritis (Stomach Virus)

Viral gastroenteritis (stomach flu) causes intestinal irritation that may lead to generalized stomach cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting.


Symptoms of constipation include lower abdominal or back cramping, dry, hard stools, or difficulty passing stool.

Food Allergies

Food allergies cause the immune system to release chemicals that irritate the digestive tract. This causes generalized stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhea, or hives (raised, red, itchy rash).

Food Intolerances and Sensitivities

Food intolerances and sensitivities differ from food allergies because cramping occurs from difficulty digesting food rather than an immune response.  

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) cramping typically occurs in the lower abdomen and may worsen with trigger foods, stress, and hormonal changes. It often improves after a bowel movement.

Menstrual Cramps

Menstrual cramps occur in the lower abdomen as the body sheds the uterine lining during menstruation (period bleeding). Pain intensity ranges from mild to severe and improves with period progression.

Pregnancy Problems

Mild cramping that comes and goes is normal in early pregnancy (as the uterus expands). However, persistent or severe cramps require immediate medical evaluation as it may indicate a problem such as an ectopic pregnancy or preterm labor.  

Anxiety causes the body to initiate the fight-or-flight response, releasing adrenaline and cortisol (stress hormone). This reduces blood flow to the digestive tract, causes intestinal muscle tension, and slows digestion, leading to generalized stomach cramps.

Other Possible Causes of Stomach Cramps

Stomach cramps can stem from the following underlying health conditions.


Appendicitis , inflammation of the appendix , causes severe, sharp, intermittent pain around the belly button that typically moves to the lower right abdomen. The pain worsens with time (24–48 hours), movement, or pressure release from the right lower abdomen.  

Kidney Stones

Kidney stones moving through the urinary tract cause intense, intermittent pain in the lower or upper abdomen, back, sides, or groin. Other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, and blood in the urine.

Gallstones , hard deposits in the gallbladder, may trigger intermittent stomach cramps, especially after consuming fatty foods. They can cause nausea, vomiting, fever, and severe pain in the upper abdomen that may radiate to the back or shoulders.

Ulcers (sores) cause erosion in the protective lining of the stomach or duodenum (upper part of the small intestine). These persistent, sometimes burning, cramps typically occur between meals and at night.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), including Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, inflames the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. IBD can cause intestinal spasms that lead to stomach cramping, diarrhea, weight loss, and fatigue.  


Diverticulitis is inflammation or infection of the diverticula (small pouches in the large intestine). It can cause intestinal spasms leading to cramps, bloating, fever, chills, nausea, diarrhea, or constipation.

Intestinal Obstruction

An intestinal obstruction blocks the passage of food, liquids, and gas through the intestine. This can cause intense generalized cramping, abdominal swelling, bloating, vomiting, and the inability to pass gas or have a bowel movement.

When to Contact a Healthcare Provider

If stomach cramps are intense and persistent (lasting more than one day), interfere with your daily activities, or are unresponsive to treatment, consult a healthcare provider. Persistent vomiting, diarrhea, or a fever (greater than 100.4 degrees F that occurs with stomach cramps also require medical attention.  

For those who are pregnant and experiencing severe, persistent stomach cramps, consult your healthcare provider to rule out complications.

When to Go to the Hospital for Stomach Cramps

Seek immediate medical attention for the following symptoms:

  • Sudden, persistent, severe abdominal pain
  • Abdominal pain that suddenly worsens
  • Blood in your vomit (may look like coffee grounds) 
  • Blood in your stool (tarry black, bright red, or maroon)
  • A high fever (over 102 degrees F), chills, or sweats
  • A rigid (tight) belly
  • Shoulder pain and nausea 

How to Find Relief for Stomach Cramps

General home remedies for stomach cramps include:

  • Heat therapy 
  • Gentle abdominal massage
  • Peppermint or chamomile tea 
  • Ginger (plain ginger or ginger ale, tea, lozenges, and cookies)
  • Rest and a clear liquid diet (for gastroenteritis or food poisoning)

For gas and indigestion , consider over-the-counter (OTC) medications like:

  • Gas-X (simethicone) 
  • Tums, Rolaids (calcium carbonate)
  • Alka-Seltzer (sodium bicarbonate) 
  • Pepcid (famotidine) 
  • Zantac (ranitidine)
  • Prilosec (omeprazole)  

Other OTC medications to consider include:

  • Pepto-Bismol (bismuth subsalicylate) for stomach upset, diarrhea, or indigestion
  • Imodium (loperamide) for diarrhea
  • Benadryl (diphenhydramine), Dramamine (dimenhydrinate), or Bonine (meclizine) for nausea  
  • Advil, Motrin (ibuprofen) for menstrual cramps

For stomach cramps due to constipation, consider:

  • A warm glass of water or prune juice 
  • Metamucil (psyllium)
  • Dulcolax (bisacodyl) 
  • Senokot (senna)
  • Miralax (polyethylene glycol) 
  • Magnesium citrate
  • An enema (introducing liquid into the rectum, the last part of the intestines) 

Can You Prevent Stomach Cramps?

Sometimes, you can prevent stomach cramps by adopting lifestyle changes and avoiding trigger foods, which vary with each individual. Common examples include:

  • Spicy, high-fat, or gas-producing foods
  • Dairy (lactose) 
  • Artificial sweeteners

Consider eating foods like yogurt, kefir, or sauerkraut or taking a probiotic supplement to balance your good and bad intestinal bacteria. You can also try OTC supplements such as Beano for gas prevention and Lactaid for lactose intolerance.

Healthy lifestyle choices to minimize stomach cramps include:

  • Frequent handwashing 
  • Proper food handling, cooking, and storage to prevent food poisoning
  • Avoiding overeating 
  • Drinking plenty of water to optimize digestion
  • Stress and anxiety management
  • Physical activity

To prevent severe menstrual cramps, consider beginning Motrin or Advil the day before your period and taking it every eight hours for the first few days.

Mild stomach cramps are common and typically resolve on their own. However, severe cramps can occur with serious conditions like appendicitis. Home remedies for mild cramps include heat, peppermint, ginger, or over-the-counter medications. Severe, persistent cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, or fever are indications that you should seek medical attention. 

MedlinePlus. Abdominal pain .

Sabo CM, Grad S, Dumitrascu DL. Chronic abdominal pain in general practice . Dig Dis . 2021;39(6):606–614. doi:10.1159/000515433

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Wong MYW, Hebbard G, Gibson PR, Burgell RE. Chronic constipation and abdominal pain: Independent or closely interrelated symptoms? Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology . 2020; 35 (8):1294-1301. doi:10.1111/jgh.14970

Gargano D, Appanna R, Santonicola A, et al. Food allergy and intolerance: A narrative review on nutritional concerns . Nutrients. 2021;13(5):1638. doi:10.3390/nu13051638

Barcikowska Z, Rajkowska-Labon E, Grzybowska ME, Hansdorfer-Korzon R, Zorena K. Inflammatory markers in dysmenorrhea and therapeutic options . Int J Environ Res Public Health . 2020;17(4):1191. doi:10.3390/ijerph17041191

Govender I, Rangiah S, Bongongo T, Mahuma P. A primary care approach to abdominal pain in adults . South African Family Practice . 2021;63(1). doi:10.4102/safp.v63i1.5280

Mehta H. Abdominal pain . Clinical Pathways in Emergency Medicine . 2016;329-345. doi:10.1007/978-81-322-2710-6_26

Gutt C, Schläfer S, Lammert F. The treatment of gallstone disease . Dtsch Arztebl Int . 2020;117(9):148-158. doi: 10.3238/arztebl.2020.0148

Wils P, Caron B, D’Amico F, Danese S, Peyrin-Biroulet L. Abdominal pain in inflammatory bowel diseases: a clinical challenge . Journal of Clinical Medicine . 2022;11(15):4269. doi:10.3390/jcm11154269

Lacy BE, Pimentel M, Brenner DM, et al. ACG clinical guideline: management of irritable bowel syndrome . Am J Gastroenterol. 2021;116(1):17-44. doi:10.14309/ajg.0000000000001036

Zhang C, Huang Y, Li P, Chen X, Liu F, Hou Q. Ginger relieves intestinal hypersensitivity of diarrhea predominant irritable bowel syndrome by inhibiting proinflammatory reaction . BMC Complement Med Ther . 2020;20(1):279. doi:10.1186/s12906-020-03059-3

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By Brandi Jones, MSN-ED RN-BC Brandi is a nurse and the owner of Brandi Jones LLC. She specializes in health and wellness writing including blogs, articles, and education.

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Antibiotic-associated diarrhea

On this page, risk factors, complications.

Antibiotic-associated diarrhea refers to passing loose, watery stools three or more times a day after taking medications used to treat bacterial infections (antibiotics).

About 1 in 5 people who take antibiotics develop antibiotic-associated diarrhea. Most often, antibiotic-associated diarrhea is mild and requires no treatment. The diarrhea typically clears up within a few days after you stop taking the antibiotic. More-serious antibiotic-associated diarrhea requires stopping or sometimes switching antibiotics.

For most people, antibiotic-associated diarrhea causes mild signs and symptoms, such as:

  • Loose stools
  • More-frequent bowel movements

Antibiotic-associated diarrhea is likely to begin about a week after you start taking an antibiotic. Sometimes, however, diarrhea and other symptoms don't appear until days or even weeks after you've finished antibiotic treatment.

Clostridioides difficile (formerly Clostridium difficile) infection

C. difficile is a toxin-producing bacterium that can cause a more serious antibiotic-associated diarrhea. In addition to causing loose stools and more-frequent bowel movements, C. difficile infection can cause:

  • Severe diarrhea and dehydration
  • Lower abdominal pain and cramping
  • Low-grade fever
  • Loss of appetite

When to see a doctor

Call your doctor right away if you have serious signs and symptoms of antibiotic-associated diarrhea. These signs and symptoms are common to a number of conditions, so your doctor might recommend tests — such as stool or blood tests — to determine the cause.

From Mayo Clinic to your inbox

Why antibiotic-associated diarrhea occurs isn't completely understood. It's commonly thought to develop when antibacterial medications (antibiotics) upset the balance of good and bad bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract.

The antibiotics most likely to cause diarrhea

Nearly all antibiotics can cause antibiotic-associated diarrhea. Antibiotics most commonly involved include:

  • Macrolides, such as clarithromycin
  • Cephalosporins, such as cefdinir and cefpodoxime
  • Fluoroquinolones, such as ciprofloxacin and levofloxacin
  • Penicillins, such as amoxicillin and ampicillin

C. difficile infection

When antibiotics upset the balance of bacteria in your digestive system, the bacteria C. difficile can quickly grow out of control. C. difficile bacteria create toxins that attack the lining of the intestine. The antibiotics most commonly linked to C. difficile infection include clindamycin, fluoroquinolones, cephalosporins and penicillins — though taking virtually any antibiotic can put you at risk.

Antibiotic-associated diarrhea can occur in anyone who takes an antibiotic. But you're more likely to develop antibiotic-associated diarrhea if you:

  • Have had antibiotic-associated diarrhea in the past
  • Have taken antibiotic medications for an extended time
  • Are taking more than one antibiotic medication

One of the most common complications of any type of diarrhea is extreme loss of fluids and electrolytes (dehydration). Severe dehydration can be life-threatening. Signs and symptoms include a very dry mouth, intense thirst, little or no urination, dizziness, and weakness.

To help prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhea, try to:

  • Take antibiotics only when necessary. Don't use antibiotics unless your doctor feels they're necessary. Antibiotics can treat bacterial infections, but they won't help viral infections, such as colds and flu.
  • Ask caregivers to wash their hands. If you're receiving care at home or the hospital, ask everyone to wash his or her hands or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer before touching you.
  • Tell your doctor if you've had antibiotic-associated diarrhea or C. difficile before. Having antibiotic-associated diarrhea once or C. difficile in the past increases the chance that antibiotics will cause that same reaction again. Your doctor may be able to select a different antibiotic for you.

Aug 11, 2021

  • Ramirez J, et al. Antibiotics as major disruptors of gut microbiota. Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology. 2020; doi:10.3389/fcimb.2020.572912.
  • AskMayoExpert. Clostridioides (Clostridium) difficile infection (adult). Mayo Clinic; 2021.
  • Zhou H, et al. Risk factors, incidence, and morbidity associated with antibiotic associated diarrhea in intensive care unit patients receiving antibiotic monotherapy. World Journal of Clinical Cases. 2020; doi:10.12998/wjcc.v8.i10.1908.
  • Lamont JT, et al. Clostridioides (formerly Clostridium) difficile infection in adults: Clinical manifestations and diagnosis. Accessed May 28, 2021.
  • Takedani Y, et al. Clinical characteristics and factors related to antibiotic-associated diarrhea in elderly patients with pneumonia: A retrospective cohort study. BMC Geriatrics. 2021; doi:10.1186/s12877-021-02267.
  • Diarrhea. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Accessed May 10, 2021.
  • Kelly CP, et al. Clostridioides (formerly Clostridium) difficile infection in adults: Treatment and prevention. Accessed May 28, 2021.
  • Stavropoulou E, et al. Probiotics in medicine: A long debate. 2020; doi:10.3389/fimmu.2020.02192.
  • Khanna S (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic. May 29, 2021.
  • Diseases & Conditions
  • Antibiotic-associated diarrhea symptoms & causes


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General questions.

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When to Visit the ER with Abdominal Pain

Causes of abdominal pain can vary. They range from the common upset stomach caused by something you ate, gastroenteritis, or acid reflux to more emergent life-threatening causes such as a gallbladder infection, ruptured ulcer, or appendicitis, among a number of other possibly life-threatening conditions. So how do you know when you should go to the emergency room (ER)?

Taylor Delgado , MD, an emergency medicine physician and adjunct professor at University of Utah Health, says that the challenge with abdominal pain is that there can be so many causes. Instead, she says, it is best to identify “red flag” symptoms that indicate a serious underlying cause of the pain. Questions she asks include:

  • Is the pain so severe that it is interrupting how you can function?
  • Are you having pain associated with intractable vomiting or inability to tolerate liquids?
  • Are you constipated or cannot have a bowel movement and experiencing severe pain?
  • Have you had abdominal surgery in the past?
  • Do you have abdominal pain that seems similar to pain you have had in the past but is different in this case? Is it more severe, or is the vomiting is different?

If the answer is yes to any of these questions, an ER visit is warranted.

Delgado says that in the ER, physicians and health care professionals are simultaneously diagnosing the patient’s condition and treating symptoms. “Our job is to take a lot of the information and assemble it into an entire clinical picture of this patient to determine the best course of treatment,” she says.

Some Causes of Severe Abdominal Pain

Delgado notes that kidney stones are one of the more common causes of severe abdominal pain. In fact, according to the National Kidney Foundation , more than half a million people go to the ER for kidney stone symptoms. Delgado says kidney stone symptoms often show up first thing in the morning when people wake up a bit dehydrated and go to urinate. They will have an abrupt cramp or sharp pain in the lower abdomen that reaches maximum intensity as soon as it starts—almost like a runner’s cramp.

For those patients who are bloated and constipated or cannot have a bowel movement and have had abdominal surgery before, a bowel obstruction is likely the cause of pain, Delgado says.

Acute pancreatitis can include pain in the upper abdomen that may begin with mild pain that worsens when you eat. The pain can become severe and constant and might include nausea, fever, and a rapid pulse.

Other causes may include irritable bowel syndrome, food poisoning, endometriosis, diverticulitis, hernia gallstones, or even an abdominal muscle strain or pull.

Appendicitis Is a Common Cause of Acute Abdominal Pain

One of the most common abdominal emergencies is appendicitis . It can occur at any age but is more common among people in their teens and twenties, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and more common among males than females. Delgado explains that appendicitis can start off slowly. “People may initially have a nagging pain in the middle of their abdomen and they're not really hungry,” she says. "Then the pain becomes progressively severe over the course of 12 to 24 hours and will often migrate down to the right lower abdomen as the appendicitis progresses.”  

Delgado warns that there is no textbook presentation of symptoms with appendicitis. Children especially may have atypical symptoms of appendicitis.

According to the NIH , pain with appendicitis may:

  • Begin near the belly button then move lower and to your right
  • Start suddenly
  • Get worse as you move, cough, sneeze, or take deep breaths
  • Occur before other symptoms and worsen in a matter of hours

Other symptoms include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Swelling in your abdomen
  • An inability to pass gas
  • Constipation or diarrhea

Many of those who visit the ER with abdominal pain will be released as the pain is caused by a virus, a gas bubble, or something the patient ate. But Delgado and others like the American College of Emergency Physicians say it is better to be safe than sorry in these instances. The American College of Emergency Physicians states, “Anyone who thinks they are having a medical emergency should not hesitate to seek care.”

  • emergency room (ER)
  • gastroenterology (GI)

Yahoo Life

Sodas like ginger ale are go-to remedies for an upset stomach. But do they actually work?

M ost people have certain go-to remedies that they reach for when they have an upset stomach. For some, that means drinking soda — either bubbly or flat — such as ginger ale or Coke. But does sipping on soda actually help? Not really, according to Dr. Pooja Singhal , gastroenterologist and spokesperson for the American Gastroenterological Association . Singhal tells Yahoo Life that there is no evidence that sweetened carbonated drinks help symptoms of an upset stomach — and in some cases, it can make you feel worse.

“These quick go-to remedies actually do very little to help with the actual cause of upset stomach, which could vary from gastroesophageal reflux disease [GERD], abdominal bloating from constipation, ulcer disease or gallbladder disease,” she says. Singhal adds that carbonated sweetened drinks can even worsen certain preexisting conditions like GERD, a chronic condition that occurs when stomach acid or bile flows into the esophagus and irritates the lining; they can also lead to tooth erosion and cavities.

Carbonation and sugary beverages also have the potential to make nausea worse, says Anna Beery , outpatient clinical dietitian at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. “Carbonation can cause bloating and stomach discomfort for some people,” she tells Yahoo Life.

Why do people think sodas can help an upset stomach?

Singhal says it’s commonly believed that the tiny air bubbles in carbonated drinks may help promote digestion and ease an upset stomach. But studies have shown that consuming sweetened carbonated drinks has no effects on the upper gastrointestinal tract, and, as Singhal adds, “The high sugar load within soda is detrimental in many ways.”

However, older research shows that carbonation in plain sparkling water — which doesn’t contain sugar — may help relieve stomach pain. The study found that people with chronic digestive issues had better digestive symptoms and less constipation after drinking carbonated water for 15 days.

A reason why ginger ale in particular is a go-to remedy likely stems from the fact that real gingerroot can help promote digestion and help with nausea, Singhal notes. Gingerroot is the stem of the ginger plant, and it’s been used for centuries for medicinal purposes, such as easing nausea and vomiting . In some cases, powdered ginger root is a main flavoring agent in ginger ale, leading people to believe that soda is good for stomach relief. But most popular ginger ale sodas contain little to no real ginger.

Tips for soothing an upset stomach

If drinking soda doesn’t technically help, what does work? Experts say there are several ways to soothe and treat an upset stomach. Here’s what they recommend:

Stick with bland foods

Staying away from fried, fatty foods and highly acidic foods, as well as carbonated and alcoholic beverages, is key to helping with an upset stomach, says Singhal. Beery suggests consuming bland foods that are easy on the stomach, such as plain toast, crackers, broth, rice and bananas.

“Sip on liquids slowly,” Beery says. “Try a tea made with real ginger or even suck on peppermints.”

Go on a walk

If your stomach is upset after eating a big meal, Singhal says that taking a walk can help with digestion. Getting steps in may be particularly helpful for those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). According to one study , people who exercised on a treadmill for 30 minutes, three times a week, experienced fewer IBS symptoms.

Take over-the-counter medication

The following over-the-counter medications can help relieve a stomachache, according to Singhal and Beery:

Gas-X or simethicone-containing products dissolve excessive gas in the stomach and intestines, helping with the pressure and pain.

Tums or Pepcid give instant relief by neutralizing increased acid in the stomach and preventing acid reflux.

Pepto-Bismol can help with diarrhea, nausea, indigestion, gas, burping and a too-full stomach.

When to call a doctor about an upset stomach

Usually, an upset stomach will get better after burping or having a bowel movement, says Singhal. However, if it doesn't, she recommends contacting your doctor. Beery adds that you should also reach out to your health care provider if you can’t keep foods and liquids down or experience dizziness, fever, sharp stomach pains or other symptoms that do not start to improve within a couple of days. “I would advise anyone to see a doctor if their symptoms are not getting better with time or recurring frequently, such as multiple times a week,” she says.

Drinking ginger ale is a common remedy for an upset stomach, but experts say there are more effective methods. (Getty Images)


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