Sepsis—the life-threatening condition that happens when the immune system over-reacts to an infection—has been linked to antibiotics. People who have taken the drug in the past year are 70 percent more likely to develop sepsis, and those who have taken four or more courses have triple the risk.
The drugs interfere with the bacteria in the gut—the home of the immune system—and this could be affecting the body’s response to bacterial infection, say researchers from the University of Manchester.
The researchers examined more than 224,000 cases of sepsis who were compared to 1.36 million healthy people. Although social deprivation was one of the prime factors in cases, the researchers discovered that a history of antibiotic use was also significant, and the risk increased with use.
One course raised the risk of sepsis by 70 percent, two or three courses doubled the risk, and four or more courses tripled the risk, and this risk was greater still in the first six weeks after taking the drugs.
Sepsis—also known as septicaemia or blood poisoning—is often a fatal condition, killing around 25 percent of people who develop it. It’s an over-reaction to a bacterial infection by the immune system, which begins attacking tissues and organs.
Paradoxically, it is often treated with very high doses of antibiotics.