By Heather Michon |
Patients with bacterial infections from illnesses, cuts or routine surgeries require antibiotics to kill the bacteria. However, more severe bacterial infections may require IV antibiotics. Side effects of this treatment vary depending on the type of antibiotics being administered, but as with any IV therapy, includes infiltration, phlebitis, clotting and infection.
Antibiotics are medications that kill bacteria, either by breaking down their cellular structures or not allowing them to reproduce.
Prior to the widespread introduction of antibiotics in the 1940s, bacterial infections from minor illnesses, cuts or routine surgeries could quickly turn deadly. The growing use of antibiotics helped raise both life expectancy and quality of life for many patients.
However, overuse in recent decades has made antibiotics less effective as many strains of bacteria have mutated or developed resistance to common antibiotics. This is now seen as a growing crisis in health care, with many fearing a return to the days when a simple infection could be fatal.
For simple infections, most patients will be prescribed oral antibiotics to be taken at regular intervals for a week or more.
IV antibiotics tend to be prescribed for more severe bacterial infections, including staph, meningitis, and dozens of of others. The most common method is to infuse antibiotics for periods of 30 minutes to an hour, several times a day.
A few hospitals in the US are beginning to experiment with at-home antibiotic infusion, which keeps patients more isolated from secondary bacterial infections and reduces hospital time for treatments that may need to be administered for up to a month or more. There are also a growing number of outpatient infusion clinics where antibiotics, among other treatments, can be administered.
Risks & Side Effects of IV Antibiotics
Like any IV treatment, having antibiotics administered through an IV brings risks of infiltration, phlebitis, clotting, or infection. Specific side effects from antibiotics vary depending on what type or combination of medications are being administered to the patient.
In general, antibiotics tend to kill good bacteria along with the bad. This includes gut bacteria, and this can cause serious and long-lasting gastrointestinal problems. Patients should talk with their medical team about the potential side effects and how to counter them before they begin any course of IV antibiotics.
Some researchers believe there is no clear evidence that antibiotics delivered by IV are more potent or targeted than oral forms. The scientific jury is still very much out, and for the time being, infusion remains standard practice for severe infections.
Alternative dosing strategies for intravenous antibiotics to treat severe infections – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0054465/
An Unsupported Preference for Intravenous Antibiotics – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4437896/
Patients can safely self-administer long-term IV antibiotics, reducing hospital stays – https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/12/151215160452.htm