Before taking antibiotics

dos & don'ts

Before taking antibiotics

An antibiotic is a drug that kills or slows down the growth of bacteria. A patient might need different types and different amounts of antibiotics depending on what bacteria is causing their health problems. This is why such drugs should always be taken under the supervision of a medical doctor.

The doctor must examine you properly, do all relevant tests for associated symptoms to get a clear picture of your health condition before making a diagnosis and prescribing antibiotics. He or she should also keep an eye out for side-effects and change the treatment when necessary.

Antibiotics are very useful when your body is infected by bacteria. However, they don’t kill viruses, so they are useless in case of a viral infection. This is another reason why people should not self-medicate in case of illnesses.

They aren’t always the answer

Antibiotics can be life-savers, but their misuse over the years has increased the number of drug-resistant germs. These germs have adapted to the survive the effects of the drug and will continue to harm the body despite treatment.

Antibiotics are not always required. You do not have to pop pills as soon as you catch a cold or the flu. If it is a viral infection, the drugs will not work in the first place.

Most forms of cold, flu, sore throat and bronchitis are caused by viruses. Even many forms of sinusitis and ear infection can get better without antibiotics. You can, however, request your doctor to prescribe drugs to relieve the symptoms.

 Taking antibiotics for viral infections like as cold, flu and most kinds of sore throat and bronchitis –

 Will not cure the infection
 Will not keep other people from getting sick
 Will not help you feel better.
May cause unnecessary and harmful side-effects.
 May contribute to antibiotic resistance, which is when bacteria are able to resist the efforts of an antibiotic to kill them and continue to cause harm.
Remember, they are medicine

Here are some rules you need to follow while taking antibiotics:

Complete your course of antibiotics. Avoid leftovers, finish the entire course of antibiotics as recommended by your doctor.
Take them at the right time as prescribed.
Stop choosing your own antibiotics.
Do not pop them as and when you please, they are not candy. Always
consult a doctor.
 Don’t share antibiotics that were specifically prescribed for you.
 Do not store medicines for later use.
Don’t skip the dose.

Medicines with a red line on the strip should never be consumed without a doctors prescription. Look out for the red line and be responsible.

When used properly, antibiotics are crucial to the human body. They have revolutionised the treatment of numerous infectious diseases an extended the life expectancy of human beings.

On the downside, they have also become a curse – perhaps because they were so successful in the first place that they went from being used rationally to being popped like candy with serious consequences.

(The author is a consultant paediatrician based in Jaipur)

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