Antibiotics are medications that may be prescribed in greater frequency this time of year, especially because infections and illnesses become more widespread through the busy holiday season. However, antibiotics are not always the answer, and they may do more harm than good if they are not used correctly. Below are some answers to common questions about antibiotics so you can use them the correct way.
When are antibiotics helpful?
Your doctor will only prescribe antibiotics to treat bacterial infections, because antibiotics are not able to treat viruses like the cold and flu. You should only take antibiotics when they are prescribed, as self-medicating with these drugs can be dangerous.
Should I take antibiotics after I feel better?
Using antibiotics might help you feel better within the first few days of use, but bacteria could still be present in the body. To prevent getting sick again due to lingering bacteria, use the medication exactly as directed for the number of days your doctor recommends. If you do still have antibiotic medication leftover after you get better, discard it immediately.
What happens if I take antibiotics when I don’t need them?
There are few immediate effects that occur when antibiotics are taken without a bacterial infection present. However, overuse of antibiotics and use when they are not needed can lead to antibiotic resistance, meaning that antibiotics will not work effectively when they are used for their intended purpose. Therefore, taking antibiotics when they are not prescribed could cause a future infection to require highly involved and expensive treatment.
Find more facts about properly using antibiotics and other medications by joining the H2U program at Good Samaritan Hospital in San Jose. This program will provide you with free health education classes and regular publications that can keep you informed about your health. Learn more about H2U and other Good Samaritan Hospital services on our website or by calling our Consult-A-Nurse healthcare referral line.