Proper use of Antibiotics

Antibiotic resistance has become a rising issue in the global health care system and has been linked to serious infections in the community and hospitals. Resistance occurs when disease causing bacteria are no longer able to be killed by the antibiotics used to treat infections. These bacteria cause illnesses to last longer, require higher cost, newer antibiotics, and could potentially even cause death due to a serious resistant infection.

Proper use of antibiotics can help prevent these issues plaguing the health care system. This includes using antibiotics only for infections and conditions they can treat, and also patients taking the antibiotics properly.

Antibiotics do not treat illnesses such as the common cold, flu, and even most sore throats and coughs because they are caused by viruses and not bacteria. Taking an antibiotic for any of these conditions won’t make you feel better and will contribute to bacterial resistance. Secondly, taking the antibiotic as prescribed can help prevent resistance. Stopping an antibiotic too soon can leave resistant bacteria in your system while only killing the weak infectors. The only way to make sure you kill the entire infection is to finish the whole course of antibiotics as prescribed by your doctor. It is also important when visiting your doctor not to pressure him for antibiotics if he doesn’t feel it is necessary.

As always, good hygiene can help prevent infections in the first place and should be considered in the times of year when illnesses are most common. For most settings, simple soap and water will suffice to kill germs.

Article By: Ryan Anderson
PharmD/MBA Candidate 2013
Drake University College of Pharmacy

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