Can antibiotics make you tired?

Antibiotics save lives but also have nasty side effects. One of them is fatigue. It is important to know why this is happening.

Can antibiotics make you tired?
Viktor Simunović, Viktor Simunović
13 Mar 2024.

Antibiotics often harbor side effects that we cannot overlook. One such side effect that begs our attention is fatigue. Could the antibiotics prescribed to restore our health paradoxically induce a state of tiredness, thereby affecting our daily functioning?

Why do antibiotics make you tired?

Disruption of gut flora

A significant factor contributing to fatigue during antibiotic treatment is the disruption of gut flora, the community of microorganisms living in our intestines. This disruption can occur as a side effect of antibiotics. The course of antibiotics can negatively impact the balance of beneficial and harmful bacteria, leading to a weakened gut environment.

This imbalance can cause fatigue, as the gut flora plays a vital role in energy production and vitamin synthesis, especially B vitamins, essential for energy metabolism. The gut microbiota is also necessary for serotonin production, a neurotransmitter responsible for maintaining mood balance. Hence, the disruption of gut flora by antibiotics can tire you, signaling the body's effort to restore the bacterial balance.

Immune response

Antibiotics are designed to fight bacterial infections but can inadvertently stimulate an immune response, causing inflammation. This inflammation can lead to fatigue, as the body expends energy to mediate the immune response.

Consequently, individuals taking antibiotics may feel tired due to the body's physiological response to the medication. It's a defensive strategy that, while beneficial in fighting off infections, can cause temporary fatigue.

Antibiotics that can make you tired

Given their critical role in treating bacterial infections, antibiotics such as Amoxicillin, Ciprofloxacin, and Doxycycline can, unfortunately, induce fatigue, among other side effects, in some patients.

How do you fight tiredness from antibiotics?

Rest more often

Implementing a regimen of increased rest is a highly effective strategy for alleviating antibiotics-induced fatigue. Ensuring ample sleep and rest can help the body recuperate and manage this energy deficit. The restful state allows the body to devote more resources to the immune response, which can be particularly taxed during antibiotic treatment.

In addition, rest also aids in reducing stress levels, which can exacerbate feelings of fatigue.

Take probiotics

Incorporating probiotics into your daily regimen can counteract the fatigue caused by antibiotic use. These beneficial bacteria help restore the gut microbiome balance disturbed by these medications.

They counterbalance the disruption of the gut's symbiotic microbiota caused by antibiotics, reinstating its regular functions.

Consequently, they may alleviate antibiotic-associated fatigue by reducing intestinal inflammation and enhancing nutrient absorption. Multiple studies underscore the efficacy of specific probiotic strains like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium in mitigating antibiotic-induced side effects.

Stay hydrated

Maintaining adequate hydration is critical to combating fatigue associated with antibiotic use, as water plays a pivotal role in numerous bodily functions, including energy production. Dehydration can lead to a drop in energy levels and cause fatigue, exacerbating the tiredness experienced due to antibiotics. Water enables the efficient transport of nutrients and oxygen to cells, facilitating peak cellular function and energy output.

Antibiotics can also alter the body's electrolyte balance, leading to fatigue. Consuming sufficient amounts of water can aid the body in maintaining electrolyte balance. Additionally, staying well-hydrated can support kidney function, which is often strained by antibiotic metabolites.


Regular physical activity may be a beneficial strategy for combating the fatigue associated with antibiotic use. Exercise stimulates the release of endorphins, the body's natural painkillers and mood elevators, which can counteract feelings of tiredness. Moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking or cycling, is recommended, as it has been shown to help reduce fatigue and improve physical and mental health.

However, it is essential to highlight that over-exercising can exacerbate fatigue, so finding an appropriate balance is vital. Tailoring the exercise regime to individual capacity and gradually increasing the intensity can help prevent overexertion.

More nutritious diet

While physical activity plays a significant role in combating antibiotic-induced fatigue, adopting a more nutritious diet can further enhance energy levels and overall well-being. A balanced diet of vitamins, minerals, lean proteins, and complex carbohydrates fuels your body's functions.

Certain nutrients, like B vitamins and iron, are vital for energy production. Foods rich in these nutrients, such as lean meats, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, can help combat fatigue.

When to see a doctor?

It is crucial to consult a healthcare professional if fatigue persists for several days after the completion of the antibiotic course or if high fever, severe body aches, and unexplained weight loss accompany it. These may be signs of antibiotic resistance or a secondary infection.

Additionally, if the fatigue is debilitating and impedes daily activities or if it is coupled with mental symptoms like confusion or extreme irritability, it could indicate a severe reaction to the medication. It's also essential to seek medical advice if you notice signs of an allergic reaction, such as a rash, difficulty breathing, or swelling of the lips, face, or throat.

Be careful with antibiotics

In summary, antibiotics can induce fatigue through various mechanisms. The severity and type of antibiotics play a vital role in this outcome. While some strategies can help combat this fatigue, persistent tiredness post-antibiotic treatment warrants medical attention. Hence, it is essential to understand the potential effects of antibiotics, including fatigue, to manage these medications effectively and guarantee top health outcomes.

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