Antibiotics and diarrhea

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ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI: Patients who suffer from diarrhea within six weeks of taking antibiotics should request testing for a spore (an oval body formed within bacteria) that can cause a range of symptoms from diarrhea to colitis.

Lester Rosen, M.D., studied 20,000 patients who suffered from diarrhea and determined that more than 20% had positive levels of Clostridium difficile, the aforementioned spore. Colitis caused by this germ can be fatal, Dr. Rosen noted.

Reporting to a meeting of the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons, he said that a single dose of antibiotic can suppress the normal intestinal bacteria enough to allow spores to grow.

The report, like others of its nature, serves as warning to physicians who are not reluctant to prescribe antibiotics for modest infections.

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