Are you using antibiotics right?
Antibiotics are an effective way to stop infections that are caused by bacteria. Strep throat, meningitis and sinus infections are some examples of when you might get prescribed antibiotics. Used the right way, they’re a powerful tool. Misused, they can have some serious long-term side effects.
Using too many antibiotics can help form ‘superbacteria.’ Superbacteria are bacteria that have changed so they’re not affected by antibiotics anymore. Overusing antibiotics also may harm your body’s good bacteria and increase your risk of conditions like obesity, asthma and cancer . It’s estimated that as much as 50% of antibiotic use isn’t as prescribed. So, how can you avoid misusing it?
Trust your doctor.
If your doctor says you don’t need antibiotics, you probably don’t. There are many conditions that antibiotics aren’t effective against, such as viral infections. If you’re feeling under the weather, talk to your doctor about other treatment options.
Only take antibiotics as directed.
Read the instructions on the label carefully. Taking antibiotics correctly helps ensure they work correctly.
Don’t skip doses.
Set reminders if you find yourself forgetting to take them. Pill organizers can also help you make sure you’ve taken the right amount for each day.
Always take them for the full duration as prescribed.
If you are prescribed antibiotics for a bacterial infection, don’t stop taking antibiotics if you feel better. Taking them for the full duration as prescribed by your doctor ensures the infection is completely gone. Bacteria can form a resistance in your body when you take only part of your prescribed antibiotics.
Don’t take them for other types of infections.
There are four types of infections: bacterial, viral, fungal and parasitic. Antibiotics are only effective against bacterial infections. Viral infections, including chest colds, bronchitis and upper respiratory infections, are extremely common but cannot be cured with antibiotics.
Viruses are the cause of 85% to 95% acute bronchitis cases in adults. Antibiotics may be prescribed to treat acute bronchitis that’s caused by bacterial infection or for people who have other lung diseases that put them at a greater risk for infection.
Your mucus can give you a clue about what type of infection you may have. Clear or white mucus often indicates a viral infection, while yellow or green mucus may suggest a bacterial infection.
Don’t save them.
Throw away any unused antibiotics if you happen to have leftovers. Leaving them around puts you and others in your house at risk for potential misuse. Discard them properly by finding an official drug collection site near you.
If you have questions about antibiotics use, we’re here to help. Members can call the 24/7 Nurse Line at 1-888-258-3432 to speak with an experienced nurse. You can also connect with a doctor using telehealth services.