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I feel dizzy after taking antibiotics – what is it?

Tags: headache

I have just completed a week on antibiotics for an abscess. I am feeling dizzy and have a dry mouth. Is this likely to be a side effect of the treatment or should I see my GP?

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The answer

Dizziness and a dry mouth are possible side effects of many antibiotics, so this could be causing your symptoms.

But without knowing exact details about your condition or the type of antibiotics you have taken, it is not possible to give you an exact answer.

Dizziness and dry mouth are also signs of dehydration, so make sure you’re getting enough to drink.

As you are still unwell after a week of treatment, it would be sensible to follow up with the doctor that prescribed you the antibiotics (especially if the abscess has not gone).

Side effects of antibiotics

The most common side effects of antibiotics are:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Bloating and indigestion
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • No appetite

These aren’t usually too severe and should pass once you finish taking the tablets. If you experience any other side effects, contact your doctor.

Some people have an allergic reaction to antibiotics. This only affects around 1 in 15 people and is not usually too severe. Symptoms include:

  • A rash (including hives)
  • Breathing difficulties including wheezing or coughing
  • A tight throat that makes breathing hard.

Antihistamines usually treat these symptoms effectively. If you do not respond to treatment, call your doctor.

In rare cases, you can experience a severe allergic reaction, called anaphylaxis. Symptoms include:

  • A fast heartbeat
  • Your neck swelling or tightening, which causes breathing difficulties
  • Feeling fear or panic
  • A drop in blood pressure causing you to feel light-headed or confused
  • Unconsciousness

This is a medical emergency and you should call 999 immediately.

For more information and support about allergic reactions, visit our allergies centre.

Answered by the Health at Hand nurses  

Further reading

7 signs of dehydration - Know your risk - AXA PPP

Allergies - NHS factsheet

Antihistamines - NHS factsheet

Useful resources

Antibiotics and their side effects

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