The relationship between short-term antibiotic treatments and fatigue in healthy individuals

Ruth Burstein*, Ariel Hourvitz, Yoram Epstein, Zeev Dvir, Daniel Moran, Jacob Altar, Joshua Shemer, Arie Shalev, Eithan Galun

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Antibiotic treatment tends sometimes to result in sensations of fatigue and decreased physical performance. The effects of antibiotics were therefore studied in 50 healthy, male trainees, aged 18-25 years, assigned in a random, double-blind fashion to one of the following treatments: tetracycline, ampicillin, trimethoprim/sulphamethoxazole, placebo I and placebo II. Duration of treatment was five times the half-life of each agent and the placebo was matched accordingly. Muscle enzyme activity (serum glutamine oxaloacetate transaminase, lactate dehydrogenase, creatine phosphokinase), maximal aerobic capacity ( {Mathematical expression}O2max), muscle strength (MS), and rating of subjective sensation of fatigue were assessed prior to and upon conclusion of treatment. Compared to pretreatment values, plasma enzymes activity was elevated in all five groups (P<0.005). No differences in {Mathematical expression}O2max or in MS were found among the subjects treated with either one of the antibiotics or those given a placebo. A significant difference in {Mathematical expression}O2max was found between the groups treated for 1 day (antibiotic and placebo) and the groups treated for 3 days (antibiotic and placebo) (P<0.0001). The rating of subjective sensation was not affected by any of the agents. We concluded that in healthy individuals, a short-term antibiotic treatment had no deleterious effect on aerobic capacity or on muscle strength and was not associated with subjective side effects. The time interval between the two maximal tests could, however, have affected the aerobic capacity. Physiological disturbances associated with a sensation of fatigue following a longer period of antibiotics cannot be excluded.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)372-375
Number of pages4
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • Antibiotic treatment
  • Fatigue
  • Maximal aerobic power
  • Muscle strength


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