Take Antibiotics Exactly As Prescribed If You Need Them
Dispose of Unused Medicines
If your doctor decides an antibiotic is the best treatment when youre sick:
- Take them exactly as your doctor tells you.
- Do not share your antibiotics with others.
- Do not save them for later. Talk to your pharmacist about safely discarding leftover medicines.
- Do not take antibiotics prescribed for someone else. This may delay the best treatment for you, make you even sicker, or cause side effects.
Talk with your doctor and pharmacist if you have any questions about your antibiotics.
Other Uses For This Medicine
Amoxicillin also is sometimes used to treat Lyme disease, to prevent anthrax infection after exposure, and to treat anthrax infection of the skin . Talk with your doctor about the possible risks of using this medication for your condition.
This medication may be prescribed for other uses ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
Flu Medicine For Children
Children can take some types of flu medicine, but other types may be unsafe. Children can take prescription flu medicines based on their age, as listed above for each of the four FDA-approved antiviral medications approved.
The OTC flu medicines that children can use also depend on the childs age and the medication. Always follow the directions on the OTC medication package and talk to a healthcare provider or pharmacist if youre unsure.
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Talk With Your Doctor If You Develop Any Side Effects Or Allergic Reactions While Taking An Antibiotic
In children, reactions from antibiotics are the most common cause of medication-related emergency department visits.
Common side effects range from minor to very severe health problems and can include:
More serious side effects can include:
- C. diff infection, which causes diarrhea that can lead to severe colon damage and death
- Severe and life-threatening allergic reactions
- Antibiotic-resistant infections
If you need antibiotics, the benefits usually outweigh the risks of side effects and antibiotic resistance.
How Are Viruses Different From Bacteria
Viruses are structurally different from bacteria. Viruses live and replicate inside of a human cell and they cannot live outside of this environment. Viruses insert their genetic material into a human cells DNA in order to reproduce.
Antibiotics cannot kill viruses because bacteria and viruses have different mechanisms and machinery to survive and replicate. The antibiotic has no target to attack in a virus.
However, antiviral medications and vaccines are specific for viruses. Vaccines stimulate your own immune system to produce antibodies, which then can recognize the virus to inactivate it before it can cause disease. The best way to help prevent the flu, COVID, shingles and chickenpox is with a vaccine.
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Accidentally Taking An Extra Dose
There’s an increased risk of side effects if you take 2 doses closer together than recommended.
Accidentally taking 1 extra dose of your antibiotic is unlikely to cause you any serious harm.
But it will increase your chances of getting side effects, such as pain in your stomach, diarrhoea, and feeling or being sick.
If you accidentally take more than 1 extra dose of your antibiotic, are worried or you get severe side effects, speak to your GP or call NHS 111 as soon as possible.
Colds And Flu: Do You Need Antibiotics
- Health Matters
- Colds and Flu: Do You Need Antibiotics?
As the mercury in the thermometer drops, we see a rise in colds and flu. Coughs, colds, and sore throats make their way through schools and workplaces with people asking, How long will this last? and, Do I need antibiotics? Dr. Mike Gavin, of UR Medicine Primary Care, helps answer these questions.
Besides the fact that they wont be effective against viruses and may be costly, theres another good reason for limiting antibiotic use. Taking them when they arent needed creates antibiotic resistance.
Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria become invincible to antibiotics, making them much harder to treat in the future. Overuse and misuse of antibiotics causes antibiotic-resistant bacteria, or superbugs. If more superbugs are created, we will not have any effective antibiotics to treat bacterial infections.
How can we stop the creation of superbugs and, at the same time, make sure a cold is really a viral infection? These facts may help you successfully navigate the winter cold and flu season:
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Side Effects Of Antibiotics
As with any medicine, antibiotics can cause side effects. Most antibiotics do not cause problems if they’re used properly and serious side effects are rare.
The common side effects include:
- being sick
- bloating and indigestion
Some people may have an allergic reaction to antibiotics, especially penicillin and a type called cephalosporins. In very rare cases, this can lead to a serious allergic reaction , which is a medical emergency.
Read more about the side effects of antibiotics.
Will Antibiotics Help The Flu
Antibiotics have no effect on the flu. The drugs wont relieve your symptoms, reduce the length of your illness or boost your immunity to other germs. Sure, you may feel better after taking antibiotics, for a simple reason: You were already on the road to recovery. We all tend to seek treatment when our symptoms are at their peak. Over the next few days, as the virus runs its course, you start to feel better. But that would have happened even without medication.
Sometimes, antibiotics can actually make you feel worse. Antibiotics are generally quite safe, but they do carry some risk, says Daniel Knecht, MD, MBA, VP of clinical strategy and policy for Aetna. They may cause diarrhea, allergic reactions and various other side effects. Its something to keep in mind if youre tempted to take unnecessary antibiotics just in case.
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Do Not Prescribe Antibiotics For Common Cold Doctors Urge
A patient with a common cold should not be prescribed antibiotics, so say two medical bodies in the US, who in a bid to reduce inappropriate use of antibiotics have joined forces to advise about appropriate prescribing of antibiotics for acute respiratory tract infections in adults.
The American College of Physicians and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issue the new advice in a paper published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
The purpose of the paper, described as high-value care advice, is to amplify and update rather than replace messages from recent guidelines on appropriate antibiotic prescribing, note the authors.
It is aimed at general practitioners and health care professionals who see patients with acute respiratory tract infections in outpatient settings.
The authors note that ARTIs such as the common cold, uncomplicated bronchitis, sore throat and sinus infection are the most common reason for outpatient antibiotic prescriptions for adults in the US.
As a result, they note, inappropriate use of antibiotics for ARTIs contributes significantly to the spread of antibiotic-resistant infections and the rise of so-called superbugs.
The CDC estimate that every year, at least 2 million people in the US become infected with and at least 23,000 die as a result of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics.
How Is The Flu Virus Spread
If you have the flu, you can spread it during the time when youre contagious, which starts 1 day before symptoms and lasts for 5 to 7 days after starting to feel sick. This means that you can spread the flu virus even before you are sick and also during the illness.
The best way to prevent the flu and lower the chance of having serious symptoms is to get the flu vaccine every year.
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Path To Improved Well Being
Antibiotics can only treat bacterial infections. This includes strep throat and urinary infections. They will not treat viruses. This includes colds, the flu, or mono . Some doctors prescribe an antibiotic to prevent an infection. Some are prescribed to treat illnesses caused by parasites and some types of fungus.
Tips to reduce antibiotic resistance, include:
- Dont ask your doctor for an antibiotic for a virus. Ask what you can do to feel better and treat your symptoms.
- Follow the daily dosing instructions. Take all of the medicine dont save any. This helps kill the infection completely.
- Wash your hands with soap and water before you eat and after you use the bathroom. This will keep you healthy. It will reduce the need for antibiotics.
What Does Antibiotic Resistance Mean
According to the CDC, antibiotic resistance happens when bacteria changes in some way to reduce or eliminate the effectiveness of the antibiotic.
When bacteria are exposed to antibiotics repeatedly, such as when you take the medication needlessly or too frequently, the germs in your body start to evolve. These changes can make the germs stronger than before so they completely resist the antibiotic. Your illness may linger with no signs of improvement. Or your illness may suddenly take a turn for the worse, requiring you to seek emergency medical care. You may have to be admitted to the hospital and get several different antibiotics intravenously. Sadly, those around you may get the resistant bacteria and come down with a similar illness that is very difficult to treat.
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Who Expects Antibiotics
High demand patients
The participants reported that the majority of patients they see do not explicitly demand antibiotics. However, they did find it very difficult to convince the high-demand patients that they don’t need antibiotics for URTIs. According to most GPs interviewed, only 1030% of patients fall in this category. For example:
Especially the ones that say, Doc it’s happened to me before, nothing new. I had pneumonia last year. I was in bad shape. I spent a few weeks in the hospital. This time I have the same symptoms as last year. I listen to them and sayIt obviously shook you up a bit and you are very concerned about it. They will say, we are very concerned and we’d like antibiotics. Those patients, I call them demanding patients
Based on descriptions by the participants, it was suggested that high demand for antibiotics patients were mainly parents with young children, recent migrants or people of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, which could include people with poor English skills and lower literacy levels.
Parents with young children were the group most frequently mentioned for placing demand for antibiotics on participants. It was indicated that parents were usually concerned about their child’s suffering, worried about staying up all night with sick kids and concerned about going back to work, and hence expected antibiotics.
High need patients
How Do Antibiotics Work
Antibiotics are prescription-only medications that fight bacteria in one of 2 ways: they either kill bacteria or stop bacteria from growing. Antibiotics dont treat infections caused by viruses or fungi .
Understanding how antibiotics work can be complicated. First, there are many classes of antibiotics: penicillins like , cephalosporins like , aminoglycosides like , and more. And then within each class, individual antibiotics treat different types of infections. , for example, can treat urinary tract infections but can also be used to treat travelers diarrhea and infected wounds.
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Which Common Infections Require Antibiotics
Patients often ask doctors for antibiotics, not knowing whether antibiotics actually treat those conditions. And doctors tend to over-prescribe antibiotics for conditions that dont always require them. Below, well talk about some common infections and what you should know about treating them.
Colds and flu
Colds and the flu are caused by viruses, so antibiotics wont help. Instead, youll want to focus on managing your symptoms. If you have the flu, your doctor may recommend an antiviral medication like .
If your cold or flu lasts for 2 weeks or more, you may be more likely to develop a bacterial sinus infection or pneumonia. In these cases, its important to visit the doctor to talk about your symptoms. If they prescribe antibiotics, its because youve developed a bacterial infection on top of your cold or flu.
Sinus infections occur when fluid builds up in the air-filled pockets in your face , allowing germs to grow. Symptoms include pain or pressure in your face, a runny or stuffy nose, headache, and mucus dripping down the back of your throat.
Urinary tract infections
Common antibiotics doctors prescribe for UTIs are , , and .
Sore throat, strep throat, and tonsillitis
Inflammation of your throat or tonsils can cause soreness and pain, and you may or may not need antibiotics to treat it. If your sore throat is caused by a virus , you wont need antibiotics. But when its due to bacteria, as in strep throat and bacterial tonsillitis, you will.
Colds Flu And Antibiotics
Colds, flu, and most sore throats and bronchitis are caused by viruses. Antibiotics do not help fight viruses. And they may do more harm than good: taking antibiotics when they are not needed and cannot treat the illness increases the risk of a resistant infection later.
Always consult with your healthcare provider about prescription drugs.
Antibiotics Are Not for Colds and Flu
- Most infections are caused by two main types of germs bacteria and viruses.
- Bacteria are organisms found almost anywhere, except normally sterile sites, such as the blood stream and spinal fluid. A few bacteria, known as pathogens, can cause diseases in humans, animals, and plants.
- Viruses are organisms that cause disease by invading healthy host cells. As virus particles multiply, the host cells burst, allowing the viruses to infect other cells.
Other medications may be prescribed or recommended by your doctor for relief of symptoms.
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How Can Vaccines Help
Many infections can be prevented by following the recommended vaccine schedule as proposed by the CDC, so be sure to keep up-to-date with your vaccines and those of your children. Your doctor and pharmacist can provide more information about important vaccines for you and your family.
Vaccines are readily available in the U.S. to help prevent the COVID-19 infection. These vaccines are safe and effective, can help keep you out of the hospital, and can help prevent severe illness and death. Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccines here.
Feel Better Soon Without Antibiotics
Antibiotics won’t help if you have a virus like the flu or a cold. They can actually cause problems later called “antibiotic resistance.”
What are viruses?
Viruses are germs that can cause infections such as a cold, the flu, and bronchitis. A virus can travel through the air and enter your body when a sick person coughs or sneezes. Your body will try to fight and kill the virus. If your body cant kill the virus right away, then you will start to feel sick in 1-2 days.
What are antibiotics?
Antibiotics are medications that treat infections caused by bacteria. Antibiotics do not kill viruses. Antibiotics do not cure or lessen cold and flu symptoms. Instead, overuse can lead to antibiotic resistance.
What is antibiotic resistance?
Antibiotic resistance happens when antibiotics lose their power to kill bacteria. This happens when we use antibiotics that are not needed or do not take them as directed.
Prevent antibiotic resistance now!
Take antibiotics ONLY when prescribed by your doctor. NEVER share antibiotics or take leftovers. Take ALL your antibiotics, even if you start to feel better. Finish ALL your pills. Do not save them for later.
When will my doctor prescribe antibiotics?
Only a doctor, nurse practitioner, or doctor assistant can tell if you need an antibiotic. They will write a prescription for you.
Washing your hands often is one of the best ways to prevent getting sick.
Medications can make you feel better when you have the flu
- Salt water nose drops or spray
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Should I Avoid Antibiotics Altogether
Not at all. Antibiotics can save people’s lives, and if you need them, you should get them as quickly as you can. Since only a doctor can prescribe antibiotics, this means that you should talk to your doctor if you think you might need them .
However, it is the grave over-reliance and inappropriate use of antibiotics that have contributed to the global antibiotic resistance crisis that we face.
A study by the CDC showed that many adults believe that if they are sick enough to see a doctor for a cold, they should get an antibiotic treatment. The study also showed that patients are not aware of the consequences of taking the drugs if they are not needed. And when antibiotics are misused, bacteria can become resistant.
Why Can’t I Take An Antibiotic Just In Case
Aside from the fact that an antibiotic won’t work unless your illness is bacterial in nature, there are significant problems with the unnecessary use of antibiotics.
It also leads births antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains. When bacteria are exposed to an antibiotic, many are killed, but some that are resistant to the drug’s effects usually remain. In other words, the antibiotic kills off the weakest bacteria while the stronger resistant bacteria continue multiplying. With this, the bacteria develop the ability to beat the drugs designed to kill them off.
The eventual result can be superbugsbacteria that become resistant to several types of antibiotics. These are very hard to kill and may only succumb to extremely powerful versions of these drugs. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that at least 2.8 million people are infected by these superbugs every year in the U.S., with at least 35,000 people dying from them.
The powerful antibiotics needed for killing superbugs are much more costly and pose a greater risk of significant adverse effects that may require hospitalization. Some superbugs go on to cause devastating and even fatal infections that are incurable with current antibiotics.
Examples of antibiotic-resistant superbugs include:
- Multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter
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