We understand that complete avoidance of antibiotics is impracticable, you are bound to fall ill at some point! So when you do, and you are ill enough that antibiotics are your only choice, keep in mind the following points as they can help prevent the development of new resistant bacteria. Incorrectly taking antibiotics will only kill off weak bacteria, leaving the strong (and often resistant) bacteria inside you where they can multiply and create resistant strains! So here’s what to do
- Take the correct dosage at the correct time
Your antibiotic will come with instructions as to how it should be taken, look for information regarding the dosage (how much you need to take each time) and the frequency (how many times a day). There may also be additional information such as whether the antibiotic should be taken with food or on an empty stomach. Some antibiotics have impacted absorption rates if taken alongside food and may reduce the effectiveness of the medication. Follow the instructions carefully, if in doubt ask your healthcare professional for clarification.
- Finish your entire prescription
Just because you begin to feel better doesn’t mean you should stop taking your medication. The weak bacteria will be killed off first leaving the resistant bacteria behind, continuing your prescription to completion will ensure all the bacteria die and no resistant bacteria can survive to multiply.
- Never save antibiotics for later
Doctors will sometimes give you more antibiotics than you need for your prescription (just in case some get lost or contaminated) so once you finish taking your prescription you may have some left over. The antibiotics you have been given will correspond to the bacteria causing your illness, the are not guaranteed to work for every bacterial infection so do not save them to use for future infections, discard them responsibly.
- Never share your prescription
As mentioned above the antibiotics prescribed for you correspond to a certain bacteria so giving your antibiotics to someone else with a bacterial infection is not likely to work. Even if you know for certain the other person has a bacterial infection the exact same as yours, the antibiotics are not likely to work for them. This is because your prescription will be prescribed by your doctor exactly for your needs, your doctor will take into account your height and weight and prescribe you a specific dosage, that may be too much or too little for another person.
- Avoid drinking alcohol while taking antibiotics
Alcohol is known to cause side effects when combined with antibiotics, although it is not severely dangerous, it may impact the effectiveness of your prescription and result in some bacteria surviving. The following antibiotics: metronidazole, tinidazole and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole is mixed with alcohol can cause more severe side effects, so take special precaution if you are prescribed these.
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