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The Dangerous Misuse of Antibiotics

Antibiotics are medications that help treat infections caused by bacteria. They do so by wiping out bacteria in the body or keeping them from reproducing. Without a doubt, when antibiotics are given appropriately, they help save lives. However, misuse or overuse of antibiotics can have dangerous side effects like wiping out the body’s good bacteria or leading to drug-resistant superbugs.

A 2003 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that doctors prescribed antibiotics for more than 60% of adults with upper respiratory tract infections, which are usually caused by viruses. If you have a viral infection like bronchitis, antibiotics won’t be of any help.

Here’s what to know about possible side effects and tips for proper antibiotic use.

Long-term antibiotic use and misuse side effects:

  • Possible extinction of the body’s good bacteria
  • Links to chronic disease like obesity and asthma
  • Unbalanced stomach and esophagus bacteria may contribute to cancer
  • Anti-bacterial resistance

The best way to prevent antibiotic complications is with these 7 simple rules:

1. Trust your doctor if they say you don’t need antibiotics

2. Only take antibiotics that your doctor has prescribed

3. Don’t take them for a viral infection like bronchitis or upper respiratory infections

4. Always take them as directed

5. Don’t skip your doses

6. Always take them for the full number of days as prescribed

7. Don’t keep them hanging around for later


Your Service Benefit Plan brochure is a good reference for more information about coverage information including prescription drug coverage.