How to Avoid Stomach Pain When Taking Antibiotics

By Erin Moseley

Sometimes when people take antibiotics they develop stomach pain that could be described as a non-stop gnawing pain. Stomach pain may be listed as a possible side affect on your drug information sheet. Not everyone will get stomach pain from taking antibiotics and there are measures that you can take to avoid it. Reading and adhering to warning labels, taking medications as prescribed, and talking to your doctor before you take antibiotics can help you to avoid any associated stomach pain.

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Woman taking medication
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Woman eating breakfast

Take your antibiotic medication as it was prescribed. Some antibiotics like Ampicillin work fastest on an empty stomach. Cefzil, a cephalosporin, works fastest when taken on an empty stomach, but you can it with food to avoid stomach upset. Augmentin should be taken with food to reduce stomach irritation. Take tetracycline 1 hour before or 2 hours after meals. Clear up any contradictory or confusing information with your doctor or pharmacist. If you get an upset stomach with any medication, talk to your doctor about the possibility of switching medications.

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Note the importance of why you should take your antibiotics with or without food. There are hundreds of available antibiotics and most work to kill bacteria or at least stop it from proliferating. Antibiotics that enter your stomach bind to specific target receptors in your bloodstream. Foods or milk that interfere with drug absorption can impede the drug's efficacy. For example, taking tetracycline with milk can reduce the absorptive ability of the drug because calcium from the milk binds to it. Your infection may not clear up properly if your antibiotics can't work effectively.

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Woman's stomach

Observe that drugs like tetracycline or the cephalosporins can cause stomach pain as an indirect result of pH imbalances that result from the destruction of beneficial bacteria in the stomach lining. Take acidophilus or probiotics after your antibiotic therapy to restore stomach pH to normal levels. Restoring stomach pH can help to encourage proliferation of beneficial bacteria.

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Woman eating yogurt

Discover what amount of food makes you more comfortable, if your medication requires you to take it with food. Usually eating food more frequently will aid in avoiding stomach pain. Some people find it cumbersome to adjust their eating schedules around taking their medications.

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Woman holding a heating pad on your stomach

Place a hot steaming towel or a hot water bottle on your stomach. The heat can give you temporary relief and help you avoid stomach pain caused by your medication.

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Doctor talking to patient about medication

Ask your doctor if another antibiotic that doesn't cause stomach pain is available for you. Perhaps you feel it's time to consider switching medications. But only a small range of antibiotics suitable for your treatment may be available, and they may all cause stomach pain.