Antibiotics are powerful medications that work against bacterial infections. It is important for the public to understand their significance, proper usage, and risks/side effects associated with them.
Firstly, antibiotics work against bacterial infections only. This means they are not effective against viral infections such as the cold or flu. Using them for viruses is not only ineffective, but also contributes to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance. They can make people feel better quickly; however, it is also important to finish the entire course of the prescription in order to avoid resistant bacteria. Resistant bacteria are a global threat, as they can make infections more challenging to treat. It is the job of providers to responsibly prescribe and educate about antibiotics.
Here are some tips to remember about taking antibiotics.
- Finish the entire course of your prescription
- Follow provider instructions on how to take antibiotic
- Do not save antibiotics for future use
- Do not take antibiotics prescribed for someone else
Antibiotics come in oral, topical, and IV forms. Oral are taken by mouth and include pills or a liquid. Topical are applied to the skin such as a cream or ointment. IV is provided through a muscle injection or through a vein.
While antibiotics can make people feel better and save lives, they can have side effects as well. It is important to call your provider if experiencing any moderate side effects, and to call 911 if experiencing a severe allergic reaction.
Common and more mild side effects include:
- Yeast infections
More serious side effects are:
- C. diff infection
- Anaphylactic reaction
Other risks include drug interactions. Antibiotics can interact with other medications and cause adverse effects. For example, they can make other drugs act more or less potent than they should be. This is why it is important to tell your provider what medications you are on so they can choose the right antibiotics for you.
- Finish the entire course of your prescription, even if you feel better.
- Follow your provider’s instructions on how to take the antibiotics.
- Do not save antibiotics for future use.
- Do not take antibiotics prescribed for someone else.
- Antibiotics can have side effects, including diarrhea, rash, dizziness, nausea/vomiting, and yeast infections.
- More serious side effects include C. diff infection and anaphylactic reaction.
- Antibiotics can interact with other medications, so tell your provider about all medications you are taking.
This article reviewed by Dr. Jim Liu, MD and Ms. Deb Dooley, APRN.
There’s nothing more important than our good health – that’s our principal capital asset.
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