Antibiotic Use: Why They Do & Don't Work

Updated: Jun 30

How many of us have left the doctor with a prescription for a new antibiotic as the next in our long line of treatment offerings? In most cases antibiotics are given because the doctors simply don't know what else to do. Long term antibiotic use is not, and should not be a treatment, nor is it a wise choice.

In the past, antibiotics were primarily given because it was believed that HS was a form of acne; unless you have an infection, antibiotics are only being prescribed to try to reduce inflammation. Typically HS abscesses are not the result of an infection; this does not mean that abscesses cannot become infected, but HS is not an infectious disease.

Why You See Initial Improvement on Antibiotics

A common scenario for those treated with antibiotics for HS is that you seem to get better in the beginning, but the HS starts to come back, usually with a vengeance. It has been explained by specialists that HS gets confused, which is why it is beneficial for a period of time, because HS, in most cases, will become resistant to that antibiotic. Once HS has become resistant to that antibiotic you’re moved to a different strain of antibiotics; this cycle will continue until you become resistant or allergic to antibiotics.

Multiple Antibiotics, Resistance & Complications

There are also doctors who prescribe two or three different kinds of antibiotics at a time or prescribe a very strong antibiotic (Bactrim for example), which has the same effect described above. The other potential issue with this method is that you can become resistant to antibiotics. If you develop chronic staph infections and/or MRSA you do not want to be resistant to antibiotics. Antibiotics weaken your immune system, which does not help with healing the abscesses or wound.

Antibiotic resistance is one of the most urgent threats to the health of the public. It occurs when bacteria develop the ability to defeat the drugs designed to eliminate them. Each year, in the United States alone, at least 2 million people become infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria and at least 23,000 plus people die as a result.

Any long-term antibiotic can cause Clostridium difficile (c-diff) which is colitis (inflammation of the colon) within 10 to 15 days. C-diff can be very difficult to treat and can be lifelong complication.

Chronic Infections

While it is not common, some HS sufferers that deal with chronic infection such as Staph, MRSA, etc. This doesn't necessarily have to be HS abscesses; they are just prone to infections. In these cases, long-term antibiotics are sometimes necessary. This is not to be confused with typical HS abscesses/disease. These people must take these antibiotics to avoid life-threatening situations and infections.

Note: In the UK, various antibiotic options such as Clindamycin/Rifampcin will have to be tried and eliminated, per treatment guidelines, prior to being considered for biologic treatments such as Humira.

No Alternative Treatments

Fluoroquinolone type antibiotics should be reserved for use in patients with conditions who have no alternative treatment options.

The Tetracycline family of antibiotics are known for causing drug induced lupus.

The FDA is strengthening its warning regarding fluoroquinolone as it has been linked to sudden, serious, and potentially permanent nerve damage called peripheral neuropathy along with other serious health complications. Peripheral neuropathy is damage to the nerves that send information to and from the brain and spinal cord and the rest of the body. It can also cause can long-lasting, disabling and potentially permanent side effects involving tendons, muscles, joints and the nervous system problems. Other side effects include inflamed or torn tendon, muscle pain or weakness, and joint pain or swelling,walking difficulty, feeling pins and needles, burning pain, tiredness, depression, problems with memory, sleeping, vision, hearing, altered taste and smell, arthralgia, pain in extremities, and gait disturbance. Tendon swelling and injury may occur within 2 days of starting treatment with a fluoroquinolone, but may even occur several months after stopping treatment.

More than 23 million patients received a prescription for one of these medications in 2011 alone.

These medicines include:

Ciprofloxacin (Cipro)

Gemifloxacin (Factive)

Levofloxacin (Levaquin)

Moxifloxacin (Avelox)


Ofloxacin (Floxin)

This is an awareness article for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider.

Written by Denise Panter-Fixsen

Edited by Brindley Kons

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