Antibiotics can be life-saving, but they can also cause numerous health problems if they are taken or administered improperly. When do you really need antibiotics? It is a question that makes perfect sense because, every day, we are exposed to dangerous bacteria that we don’t know anything to stop.
Find out everything about taking antibiotics, the reasons to take antibiotics, and when you need them. Clarify all your doubts by reading this article.
What Are Antibiotics?
Antibiotics are extremely powerful and effective drugs that help you fight a bacterial infection. Its discovery occurred in 1928 by Alexander Fleming, and the first antibiotic to be used was penicillin in the early 1940s.
Since then, progress in the health area has been enormous. However, the appearance of the antibiotic is, to this day, one of the greatest milestones in the history of medicine and one of the greatest achievements for your health insurance.
You should be aware that antibiotics do not cure infections caused by fungi or parasites, such as ringworm or athlete’s foot, nor a viral infection such as flu and constipation.
To take antibiotics, you must have your family doctor’s approval (and prescription) – as we’ll explain later.
1. Taking Antibiotics? Yes, With a Prescription!
First of all, it is important to clarify that antibiotics are always subject to a prescription. This means that if you go to the pharmacy to buy an antibiotic to fight a particular infection, the pharmacist will not provide it if you do not have a prescription that authorizes it.
When is the right time to take antibiotics? First, you must be evaluated by a doctor, and only after the evaluation is done, can he conclude that you need an antibiotic. If so, the doctor will give you a prescription to pick up the medication at the nearest pharmacy. If not, it will surely indicate the best treatment for your problem.
2. How Do Antibiotics Work?
In a very brief way, antibiotics fight bacteria in two different ways: they directly kill the bacteria in your body or prevent them from growing and multiplying.
There are different classes of antibiotics, such as penicillins (amoxicillin), cephalosporins (cephalexin), fluoroquinolones (ciprofloxacin), and many others. Within each of the categories, there are different types of antibiotics that treat specific infections or several different ones. Bactrim, for example, is an excellent antibiotic to treat the symptoms of traveler’s diarrhea, but it can also be used to relieve the symptoms of a urinary tract infection.
It is also necessary to take into account the antibiotics side effects that can cause a doctor to prescribe a certain antibiotic over another. That is why what works with a patient does not mean that it works with another who suffers from exactly the same.
How to know if you’re taking too many antibiotics? Sometimes doctors try various antibiotics until they find the one that produces the best results in a particular person.
3. What Signs Tell You That You May Be In Need Of Antibiotics?
There are several signs that tell you that you may need to take antibiotics to treat a certain bacterial infection, including:
- Inflammation In The Body
- Muscle Ache
- Swollen Lymph Nodes
- Nausea and Vomiting
These signs show that you have a health problem, but they do not clearly show that it is a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection. It is necessary to consult your doctor to obtain an evaluation.
The doctor may need to ask you to have urine, saliva, or skin tissue tests done to make a better diagnosis or prescribe antibiotic supplements.
4. What Infections Require Antibiotics?
Usually, people ask doctors for antibiotics to get rid of the above symptoms. And doctors tend to pass antibiotic medicines so that their patients recover more quickly (without the risk of stopping or missing their jobs). The following common infections stand out:
Colds and Flu
The flu or cold you get in the flu season are flu viruses and not bacterial. However, if your flu or that common cold lasts more than two weeks, you are likely to develop a bacterial infection, and it needs the most appropriate antibiotic to be properly treated.
Sinus infection is due to the accumulation of fluid in the nasal air sacs, which causes an increase in germs. And these can cause bacterial nasal infections.
The symptoms of this type of infection involve pain in the face, headaches, a runny nose, mucus running down the throat, among other signs of discomfort. And only after these symptoms last for more than ten days should they be treated with antibiotics.
Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
UTI treatment involves the prescription of antibiotics, as these infections are usually caused by the existence of bacteria. If you have a urinary tract infection, it is natural that you will experience a greater burning sensation when urinating, uncomfortable pelvic pain, and frequent urination.
A bladder infection can quickly reach the kidneys if it is not treated quickly, so it is recommended that you take antibiotics for this purpose.
Pharyngitis and Tonsillitis
Inflammation and sore throat are bothersome and can cause a lot of embarrassment. However, it should only be treated with antibiotics when it comes to strep throat and bacterial tonsillitis. Penicillin is the most widely used miracle drug to treat this type of bacterial infection.
Ear infections cause numerous headaches, hearing difficulties, and fluid drainage caused by inflammation, among other equally important symptoms. They usually affect children and can exist without any associated infection. However, when the symptoms of an ear infection persist for more than 3 days, antibiotics should be used to treat it.
Sometimes, children have multiple ear infections over the course of a year, and not all of them require the use of the same antibiotic. Each ear infection may require a different antibiotic.
The pneumonia symptoms can occur naturally on their own or after complications from other infections like the flu. Pneumonia occurs when the air sacs in the lungs become inflamed and filled with fluids and can result in viral or bacterial infections. And all bacterial pneumonia must be treated with antibiotics.
This health complication can be fatal and is especially serious for people who have a weak immune system, or anyone considered to be at risk, as is the case for people suffering from heart disease, diabetes, and other immune diseases.
5. Tips to Consider When Taking Antibiotics
If you are taking antibiotics to fight a bacterial infection, you should pay attention to the following aspects:
Take the Medicine until the End
You should take the box of antibiotics that your doctor has prescribed for you, for the time prescribed and until the end. Failure to comply with the medical prescription causes the bacteria to survive and the infection not to be properly cured.
Taking the Medicine at the Right Times
Some antibiotics must be taken every 8 hours, every 12 hours, or other periods of time that the doctor has defined, and you must respect them scrupulously.
When you don’t respect taking the antibiotic at the right time, you are contributing to the bacteria’s resistance to the drug. And, in this specific situation, your immune system becomes weaker, and the antibiotic stops having the desired effect (the bacteria multiplies instead of dying).
6. Do Not Take Old Antibiotics or Antibiotics That Have Been Left Out Of Other Times
If you have antibiotics that have been left out of other times, it is a sign that one of the previous points was not respected, and that is already bad.
On the other hand, the fact that you have had practically the same signs on previous occasions does not mean that the infection is treated with the same antibiotic. Another may need to be prescribed to resolve the situation.
This tip also applies to anyone thinking of taking other people’s antibiotics.
7. Always Talk To Your Doctor!
Your doctor is the best person to decide whether or not you need antibiotics. He knows your medical history better than anyone and has the capacity to make the correct diagnosis for your health difficulties.
You should not self-medicate at any time, especially with antibiotics. Talk to your doctor about any questions. Only then will you be able to properly treat your problem and under the certainty that you are having specialized medical monitoring.