What You Really Need to Know about Antibiotic Use

(GoHealthier.com) – Antibiotics require prescriptions from medical professionals and should be used only in specific circumstances. Like all drugs, they have specifically intended uses, and too much or too little of this type of medicine can cause problems. Using antibiotics as directed will get the safest, best results for your medical condition, but you should take them only if you need them.

What Can Antibiotics Treat? What Don’t They Help?

Antibiotics can help when you have specific types of bacterial infections, such as urinary tract infections (UTIs), whooping cough, or strep throat. They usually are no longer prescribed as preventatives in general health situations, and they are ineffective for viruses, including colds, flu, non-strep sore throats, and chest colds.

For sinus infections, your doctor will determine your needs based upon the length of infection and type. Sometimes, a short run of steroids is more effective for sinus infections (and ear infections).

Tips for Succeeding With Antibiotics

Only take antibiotics as described. If, for whatever reason, you have old or unused antibiotics, you should dispose of them safely in accordance with your doctor’s instructions.

When you are given antibiotics, make sure to take them as instructed and when instructed. As allergies to antibiotics are common, you shouldn’t share them with others or distribute them, and make sure you report any allergy symptoms to your doctor immediately upon developing them.

Commonly, people also stop taking prescribed antibiotics once they start feeling better. But for best results, antibiotics need the full course to beat your bacterial infection. Ask your doctor before stopping prescribed treatment.

Antibiotic Reactions and Side Effects

Again, antibiotics are a common reason people develop allergies and reactions, even though they can be life-saving drugs. These side effects can range from inconvenient to serious, and they include nausea, yeast infections, diarrhea, and rash.

Some infections can also become antibiotic-resistant, and some allergic reactions can be more severe. Usually, the doctor will weigh the risks of taking antibiotics against the benefits before prescribing.

How Do Antibiotics Work?

Antibiotics are effective because they can stop bacteria from functioning in certain infections. However, their use is limited sine they don’t work against viral infections, and there’s a big concern that the overuse of antibiotics has led to antibiotic-resistant bacteria strains.

Consistency is helpful when taking antibiotics, so it’s good to take them at the same time each day. Additionally, some antibiotics work better with or without food, but it depends upon the medication.

When you take antibiotics, it’s best to avoid alcohol, which can cause a stomach ache or some other side effects. Usually, antibiotics will work within 72 hours.

The Other Symptom: Gut Problems

As mentioned, antibiotics can cause diarrhea and upset stomachs. That’s because while they’re on the hunt for bad bacteria, they can cause an imbalance of good bacteria in your gut — the stuff you need to break food down, so you can digest it. Probiotics (often found in yogurt) can minimize these problems, but it’s pretty common to experience mild discomfort in the stomach or gut while on antibiotics.

However, extreme gut pain or persistent diarrhea can result in the development of C. difficile and other major problems, so it’s important to speak with your doctor right away if this occurs.

While it’s important to be cautious about taking antibiotics, they can be useful and even life-saving when prescribed and taken correctly. If you think you may need antibiotics, are having a reaction to antibiotics, or are experiencing any medical issue involving antibiotics, reach out to your doctor for specific medical advice.

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