Gluten Free Guerrillas
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Link between CD and allergy to antibiotics?

Just wondering if this is merely an unlucky coincidence, or whether an intolerance to gluten and all its evil works is predictive of other intolerances (besides the common ones e.g. lactose). Does anybody else here suffer allergies to any antibiotics?

In 1999 I got an infected horsefly bite which triggered cellulitis. I was in an isolation ward for two and a half weeks on IV penicillin and nearly died, leaving me with a huge scar on my left leg, a heightened fear of severe insect bites and an intolerance to penicillin. Nuisance, but hey, I'm still here (thank you Dr Fleming).

Two weeks ago I suffered a horsefly bite that caused my hand to swell up like a tennis ball, so huge I couldn't bend my fingers. It looked like someone had inflated a rubber glove. Well, I didn't fancy a fortnight in hospital and nearly dying, so I got myself sharpish to the local minor injuries unit and was given a high dose of oral clindamycin for two weeks.

On day 11, out of the blue, I developed a classic morbilliform drug eruption which resulted in me spending half of Thursday night in A&E. Now I'm allergic to clindamycin too, that's two major classes of antibiotic I can no longer have. Kind of worrying when I might have another 30-40 years of chest infections, gardening injuries and bl00dy horseflies to contend with.

Any of you fellow Guerrillas experienced the same, or am I just really unlucky?

14 Replies

I swell up horribly from insect bites. The antibiotics I cannot take are the fluoroqinolones. I find I have a lot of problems with many proteins, eggs being very hard on me. I think our immune systems are in such high guard status that many of us can react to almost anything. Glad you are OK now. Those horseflies can be a bugger!


You're probably right, Dellie, we're designed to repel all boarders. And I always react badly to insect bites.


Hi DG, firstly this sounds really painful so poor you. When I was a child I was bitten by a horse fly and had a bad reaction I can't remember it but have memories of my mum saying how badly it affected me.

As for antibiotics these upset my stomach and I say to Dr's please don't give me antibiotics, I also have microscopic colitis and they can make this flare up.

One thing to bear in mind is after taking a course of antibiotics is that they not only kill the bad bacteria in our guts but the good bacteria so it is a good idea to have some live yoghurt afterwards.

I also think that 'we' as coeliac have a twitchy immune system and that causes these reactions!

Lastly I hope that you feel better soon.


Thanks Jerry. I will have a bowl of homemade yogurt this very instant. Might be good topically as well to help the itching!



I'm really reactive to all insect bites, horsefly bites are horrible aren't they? Out in Italy I was bitten by sand flies and developed sand fly fever, ending up with pleurisy on top of fever THEN conjunctivitis! That was fun. I have, in the last year also developed an anaphylactic reaction to bee stings. Wasps? pah only a nasty local reaction - seems a bit tame after a bee sting!! Don't you love the summer??

BTW all these reactions are only in the last few years


Ooh, ouch, that sounds really nasty. Looking like the elephant man with scarlet fever pales by comparison :-)

Maybe our immune systems are just a little too enthusiastic in all sorts of ways. Given the choice between the two, right now, I would happily pick CD over the insect reactivity.


I remember having a massively swollen foot from a horsefly bite as a child but used antihistamines to take the swelling down. Can you tolerate Grapefruit Seed Extract? I believe that is supposed to be an excellent natural antibiotic.


Thanks for the recommendation, Donnald. I've never tried grapefruit seed. Presumably you can get it from Holland and Barrett, etc? Given the known interactions between grapefruit and antihistamines I think I will wait until after the AHs are out of my system, though!


I didn't realize my horrible reactions to bug bites were probably related to CD. It makes sense though.

I have used Grapefruit seed extract for years for the bites and it works very well. I have to take it in double doses and have only found one brand that works well; Nutrabiotic liquid or caplets are great for all kinds of infections.


Hi DG, sorry to hear about the rotten reactions. I also react badly to horsefly bites, (yet another thing to try not to get paranoid about).

There are certainly several studies suggesting that antibiotic use may damage intestinal mucosa, affect gut permeability, and be a possible precursor to coeliac disease. So, if you are coeliac, antibiotics are likely to have a big effect. As you say, it is kind of worrying.

Perhaps probiotic yoghurt every day would be a good idea?


That sounds like a solid explanation, thanks Penel.


I was diagnosed with an allergy to penicillin when I was about 8 years old, but I can't remember why I was prescribed them. Looking back I remember I developed a grass allergy around the same time. I was diagnosed with CD at 42 although I had had symptoms for about 20 years. Your antibiotic question is very interesting- I hadn't made a connection to the CD.


I react with allergy to penicillin too,& another one can't remember the name! Got it written down somewhere! My test for CD was negative but I went GF anyway ( I have Hasimoto's) & have been enormously better. I too react to insect bites, have allergies to certain foods, makeups & perfumes too. I hope that you are feeling better & someone somewhere will find the answers some day!



I too have problems with mosquito bites. I smother myself in Deet and use plug-in repellents in nearly every room when we go abroad. However, nowadays I am being bitten in this country just as much. I think it depends on the local insects on how I react - like others, sometime I have had very bad reactions with swollen limbs etc - nothing as bad as you though DG.

I am also allergic to penicillin and have been for years. All of my three (grown up) children are also allergic to it, but this was discovered when they were young kids - the eldest when he was one and half. One of my children has allergies to most of the antibiotics - medics have given it a name ? multi-drug allergy. She also has IBS. Maybe there is a familial link.