Antibiotics May Increase Allergies, Asthma
Growth of Yeast in Digestive System May Be to Blame
By Jeanie Lerche Davis
WebMD Medical News Reviewed By Michael Smith, MD
on Wednesday, May 26, 2004
May 26, 2004 --
Why do so many people suffer from allergies and
asthma? Possibly because they're taking too many Antibiotics , new
The findings were presented today at the annual meeting of the
American Society for Microbiology.
"Over the past four decades there has been an explosive increase in
allergy and asthma in westernized countries, which correlates with
widespread use of Antibiotics ...," says researcher Mairi Noverr,
with the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, in a news release.
Antibiotics increase the growth of the yeast Candida albicans in the
gut, Noverr explains. It is a common side effect of Antibiotic use
and previous studies show that this change in the gut could increase
In a mouse study, Noverr studied the effects that antibiotics and
the subsequent yeast growth might have on respiratory allergies.
The mice were treated with antibiotics for five days to weaken the
naturally occurring bacteria in the gut, which can lead to the
overgrowth of candida yeast in humans. Then the mice's digestive
systems were infected with the candida yeast. In order to determine
if antibiotics and the yeast growth could lead to respiratory
allergies, the nasal passages of the mice were then exposed to mold
spores -- called aspergillus. Allergies to this mold are common in
The mice developed an increased sensitivity in the respiratory
system -- a possible prelude to allergies and asthma.
Mice that didn't get Antibiotic treatment did not develop this
sensitivity, reports Noverr.
"The studies presented here are the first direct demonstration that Antibiotic therapy can promote the development of an allergic airway
response," says Noverr. While his study is preliminary, it does show
that the same process may be causing allergies and possibly asthma
in humans, he explains.
SOURCE: News release, American Society for Microbiology annual
meeting, New Orleans, May 23-27, 2004.