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Antibiotic Use and General Illness.


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#1 stillriding

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Posted 22 September 2011 - 04:23 AM

Hi All,

I have been on immune suppression medication for about 3 months now, and I am sitting here with a very sore throat. My general practitioner gave me a script a while back and mentioned that if I start to get ill (the normal kind of ill) that I should use my antibiotics ASAP. She said this was because my body doesn't have many fighting mechanisms left and I could actually be a lot sicker than I feel.

What is everyone's experience with general illness? Is it no longer the case of letting it run its course?

Thanks.

By the way, my specialist has advised that if I get really sick then I can stop my methotrexate for a few weeks until I feel better.

#2 Robyn Sims

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Posted 22 September 2011 - 05:42 AM

Hi StillRiding,

Good to hear from you again.

A sore throat is a sure sign of the onset of a cold or flu. This is I expect why you were given a prescription for antibiotics with the advice that you take them as soon as possible if you were feeling unwell.

Perhaps you can visit or telephone your general practitioner in the morning if you are feeling doubtful. This is what I would do.

See what the others say, but I expect it will be along the same lines

#3 Shelley Ensz

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Posted 22 September 2011 - 05:57 AM

Hi Stillriding,

I am sorry that you have a sore throat. In my opinion, you should call your doctor or urgent care clinic before actually starting the antibiotics, if it is in the least bit possible.

Please keep in mind that I'm not a doctor and have no medical training at all. Any sore throat lasting more than two weeks can be a sign of sinus infection, strep throat, cancer or AIDS. But yours is brand new so no worries there as yet. (That sentence is aimed at readers who have had a sore throat longer than two weeks and who have done nothing about it yet, who are likely to read this thread sooner or later.)

More likely in scleroderma patients though is that heartburn (acid reflux) is out of control; or that dryness (perhaps from Sjogren's or lack of humidity) has set in causing a severely dry mouth (and throat). But the most likely of all could possibly be that you may have developed a candida (thrush) infection as a side effect of the immunosuppression.

Oh yes, and then there is the common cold, influenza and pneumonia.

Anyway, for all those reasons, you need to be valuated and the underlying cause treated. Even though the doctor has given rescue antibiotics, I have found it useful to still call their office right away (if in the least bit possible) before starting them.

They might need to do a culture, run some tests, hospitalize, or prescribe some other treatment depending on the entire package of symptoms. Also, sometimes cultures don't work if we have already started antibiotics -- and antibiotics can also cause thrush, which can cause a long lasting sore throat.

Last -- but definitely not least -- methotrexate itself can cause a sore throat as a side effect. So, you see, there is a lot of troubleshooting to be done to narrow down the cause in your case.

Meanwhile, the take home message is that even if they tell you what to do or give you rescue antibiotics to take, the wisest and most health-enhancing course of action is to not actually do any of those things without talking or seeing your doctor or an urgent care center first.

Yes, that's even though they gave you a blanket instruction to just take the meds -- because like as not, it may be the wrong course of action and they will turn tables on you and say, why didn't you see me about this earlier or complain that now they can't do a culture.

If you have started taking them in the meantime, without calling them first, which I imagine may have happened, that's not the end of the world. Please just still call and let them know about it. Don't let the issue slide, okay?

My husband (who does not have scleroderma but who had a lung transplant last year) has had rescue antibiotics on hand for a few decades now, yet he still never takes them without consulting his doctor first. Often, they have prescribed a different antibiotics or treatments instead. Several times they hospitalized him. A few times they advised him to just sit it out for another day before starting meds. Sometimes he has had to have a throat culture and/or blood test first. And so on and so forth.

See, you just can't win for losing, as they say. Please let us know what you find out. Here's a warm hug to tide you over.

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Warm Hugs,

Shelley Ensz
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#4 Joelf

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Posted 22 September 2011 - 11:39 AM

Hi Stillriding,

Sorry to hear that you've got a sore throat and are feeling a bit under the weather.

I have been taking an immune suppressant (Azathioprine) for the last 18 months and at the start was very worried about contracting any illness, particularly a chest infection as my lungs have been affected by Scleroderma. My consultant advised me to go straight to my general practitioner if I felt unwell and she has usually prescribed antibiotics and also contacted The Royal Brompton Hospital on my behalf to check that they were the correct medication.

I do try to avoid situations where I come into very close proximity with other people (such as crowded underground trains) and have been known to actually sit with my scarf covering the lower part of my face like a bank robber if I hear someone coughing or sneezing in my vicinity! ;)

As the others have advised, I would certainly contact your general practitioner, if only to eliminate more serious illnesses and to set your mind at rest.

Kind regards,

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#5 stillriding

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 10:51 PM

Great advice! I saw my general practitioner and yep ended up on the antibiotics as well as upping my reflux meds. But I was advised against letting the illness run its own course.

Thanks.

#6 Robyn Sims

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Posted 27 September 2011 - 11:27 PM

Great!!

One day you will be giving others advice on this forum.