5 Things You Need to Know About Antibiotics

May 16, 2017
5 Things You Need to Know About Antibiotics
5 Things You Need to Know About Antibiotics

Antibiotics are life-saving drugs that revolutionized medicine in the 20th century. Unfortunately, inappropriate antibiotic use has led to a new era of drug-resistant organisms that threaten human health. Before you ask your physician for antibiotics to treat your infection, consider the following:

  1. Also known as antimicrobial drugs, antibiotics are medications that fight bacterial infections in animals and humans. They do this by either killing the infecting organism or by making it hard for the organism to multiply and grow.
  2. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 33 to 50 percent of antibiotic use in humans is unnecessary. In fact, inappropriate antibiotic use has led to "super bugs," which are resistant to some of the most common medications.
  3. Antibiotic medications have no effect on viral infections, such as influenza and the common cold. These drugs will not relieve symptoms or shorten the duration of a viral illness. For viral illnesses we recommend:
  4. Sleeping solo or putting a large pillow between couples
  5. Staying at least five feet away from others
  6. Family should wash hands before and after touching any part of face
  7. It's important to complete an entire course of antibiotics according to your doctor's recommendations. Even if you feel better after a few days, you may still have bacteria in your system. If you discontinue your medication too early, you could suffer a recurrence. You may also be at risk of developing an antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection.
  8. Most sore throats are caused by viral infections that do not respond to antibiotic medications. One exception is strep throat, which is caused by the bacteria streptococcus. Your doctor can test to see if your sore throat is caused by bacteria.

Slowing Antibiotic Resistance
When it comes to preventing widespread antibiotic resistance, doctors and patients both hold key responsibilities. Patients should always take antibiotics according to their doctor's recommendations. They should also never use a friend or family member's antibiotics to treat their own infections. On the other hand, doctors should only prescribe antibiotic therapy when it is very likely to be beneficial to a patient. They should also use appropriate tests to determine whether an infection is viral or bacterial.

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