Mistakes You're Making With Antibiotics

Antibiotics are considered one of the most important discoveries in modern times. Taking them for a bacterial infection can shorten the length and severity of an illness, and may even be life-saving. And while most people think we know how to take antibiotics correctly, there are some things you may be doing wrong that can make them ineffective and even downright dangerous. It's important to know that sometimes, even the doctor's instructions aren't enough to ensure you're taking antibiotics in a safe way.

Bacterial infections are the only type of illness that can be treated with antibiotics. If you have an infection like strep throat or a UTI, you may be prescribed a specific type of antibiotic to help kill the bacteria that are making you sick (via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)). Viral infections, on the other hand, shouldn't be treated with antibiotics. Not only will the medication not help clear up your illness, it could even cause the bacteria that are already in your body to become resistant to antibiotics. Once they are resistant, they can't be killed by most antibiotics, but can still be passed on to other people (via Franciscan Health). Doctors should not prescribe you antibiotics for colds, the flu, and other infections like bronchitis. Health experts even recommend skipping antibiotic treatment for common illnesses like sinus infections, even though they are caused by bacteria. If antibiotics aren't needed, they can cause more harm than good.

These mistakes could be dangerous

If you are prescribed an antibiotic, it's very important to follow your doctor's directions for how to take the drug (via the CDC). Skipping doses or stopping too early can keep you from getting better and can help the bacteria you're trying to get rid of become stronger. Always avoid drinking alcohol when taking an antibiotic. Some antibiotics become less effective when combined with alcohol. At best, alcohol can dehydrate you and slow your recovery, and at worst, it can cause serious side effects like severe digestive issues and even liver failure when combined with antibiotics (via Healthline).

While it may seem like common sense, remember to never take antibiotics that have been prescribed for someone else (via the CDC). Their doctor gave them a specific medication for their body and their conditions, and it could be dangerous to take a drug that may interfere with something else you are taking or a health condition that you have. Lastly, don't ever ignore side effects from antibiotics. These may include rash, diarrhea, nausea, or yeast infections. While these might seem like just annoyances compared to the infection you're trying to get rid of, they can cause organ damage and even be fatal in some cases. Antibiotics can be a powerful tool in fighting disease when used correctly. Be sure to follow your doctor's instructions in addition to these tips, so you can be get back to being healthy as quickly as possible.