We’ve been hearing a lot these days about antibiotics and the possibility of super-resistant viruses and strains of bacteria that can actually counteract conventional antibiotic treatment. But there’s so much conflicting information out there. Sometimes it’s hard to know what qualifies as reliable fact and what does not.
The truth is, antibiotics are one of the most useful and effective treatments in modern medicine. Every year, they clear up countless conditions that would have been much worse if antibiotics weren’t available. Most of us will be prescribed antibiotics at one time or another. By the time we’re adults, the majority of Americans have been through at least one course of antibiotics.
However, there’s also truth to the concern being raised by various medical organizations—namely that antibiotics are being overused, and due to that overuse, are at risk of losing their potency.
Since antibiotics are so effective, it’s easy to look to them right away when there’s a hint of infection, in order to simply “knock it out” and “solve the problem.” Medical science is currently leading the drawbacks of this philosophy, and it’s time to return to the basic question of when antibiotics are necessary and when they aren’t.
Here are three big reasons not to use antibiotics without a prescription, or even to question your doctor on whether they’re really necessary:
1. They’re hard on your system
Although the point of antibiotics is to fight infections and viruses and ultimately relieve stress, antibiotics are a powerful medicine, which means they put their own kind of stress on the body. A range of side effects are possible, from fatigue to gastrointestinal issues and oral thrush. It’s important to remember that antibiotics are not a “catch all” solution. When not used correctly, they can present their own side effects and problems
2. They might not be necessary
Studies show that antibiotics are generally overprescribed, especially in counties with lower standards of sanitation. Even in more developed areas, antibiotics are often used when they really aren’t needed. If you’re thinking about taking leftover antibiotics that were prescribed either to you or someone else, it’s always better to visit an urgent care center and get checked out.
3. They might not be the right kind of antibiotics
People often mistakenly think that all antibiotics are more or less in the same. In fact, there are many different types of antibiotics with specific medical uses and applications. Your doctor will prescribe the correct antibiotic for the type of infection you have. If you simply grab a bottle of leftover antibiotics that belonged to you or someone else, you’re probably not getting the correct type of medicine or the correct dosage.
Using antibiotics responsibly
As with so many social and environmental issues facing us today, the proper use of antibiotics is something that can only come about when people have the knowledge and education they need to make the right decision. There’s no question that antibiotics are one of the most miraculous tools of modern medicine—and by limiting our use of antibiotics to cases in which they’re really necessary, we as a community can keep it that way.