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Can antibiotics cause diarrhea?

Medically reviewed by Last updated on March 31, 2023.

Official answer


Yes, antibiotic treatment can often be associated with diarrhea, called antibiotic-induced diarrhea or antibiotic-associated diarrhea.

Antibiotics destroy both good and bad bacteria in the gut, which can alter the normal balance in your intestines.

Normally, a mild case of soft stools or diarrhea occurs until the antibiotic treatment is complete. A more serious outcome of antibiotic-induced diarrhea is colitis, an inflammation of the colon, and an infection called Clostridium difficile (C. difficile).

Side effects of C. difficile may include severe, watery diarrhea, stomach cramps and tenderness, fever, weight loss, and pus or blood in your diarrhea. If you have symptoms of C. difficile, contact your doctor immediately for further evaluation and treatment.

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