Smart Use of Antibiotics

How and when to use antibiotics

Your Doctor's Judgement
Your doctor will use good judgement in ordering medication based on your symptoms.  The common cold and flu are caused by a viral infection and cannot be cured with an antibiotic.  Most cold and flu symptoms (sniffling, coughing, fever) can be treated with self care and go away in about seven days.

Colds and most flus are caused by a viral infection.  They cannot be cured with an antibiotic.  The symptoms usually clear up in about seven days.  Most colds and flu can be handled with self-care and do not need antibiotics.

Bacterial infections, on the other hand, will worsen over time if left untreated.  Professional help may be needed if you have symptoms like:  fever, vomiting, diarrhea, severe sore throat, cough or chest discomfort, that last more than a day or two.

The overuse, use of the wrong kinds, and improper use of antibiotics can lead to decreased effectiveness for everyone.  What happens, becasue of misuse, is a growth of antibiotic resistant bacteria that require stronger and stronger kinds of antibiotics.

These new bacteria can be difficult to treat and can be fatal.

The U. S. Centers for Disease Control has evidence that there are an increase in the number of antibiotic resistant bacteria.  They are urging doctors to order antibiotics more cautiously.

When an antibiotic is truly necessary, the doctor will order it for you.

 Smart Use of Antibiotics
When Antibiotics Are Ordered
Doctors order medications to relieve pain, control disease, treat illness, and cure infection.  Antibiotics are ordered to treat infections that are caused by germs called bacteria.  Because there are different kinds of bacteria, there are different kinds of antibiotics.

Regardless of the type of antibiotic that is ordered, follow these tips to help you get the best results from your medication.

What Can You Do?
Make sure your doctor is aware of all the medications you take.  This includes birth control pills and any over the counter medications you buy.

Some antibiotics may decrease the effectiveness of the birth control pill.   You many want to use additional form of birth control to prevent pregnancy, during and after treatment with an antibiotic.  Tell your doctor if you are allergic to any medication.  Allergic reactions are:  rash, hives, and difficulty breathing.  Side effects, which are not true allergies, may include:   dizziness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and/or stomach discomfort.

Let your doctor know if you are pregnant, or soon plan to become pregnant, or if you are breastfeeding.


To Clear Up your Infection Completely
Your doctor will determine how many days you will need to take the antibiotic.  Even if you are feeling better in a few days it is extremely important that you take all of the pills to kill the bacteria completely.

When you fail to take all of the pills, you allow the stronger bacteria to survive and the infection will return.

Do your best not to miss any doses of the antibiotic.  Should you miss a dose, take it as soon as possible.

However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the dose you missed and go back to your regular schedule.

DO NOT take two doses at one time.


Warning - Caution
Notify your doctor if you do not get any better in a few days or if you get worse.  Occasionally it is necessary to change the type of antibiotic that was ordered.

Throw away any leftover antibiotic.  Never use them to treat another kind of infection.  Never give them to a friend or family member.

Notify your doctor right away, anytime you experience allergic reactions like swelling of the face and lips, eyelids, throat or tongue and have difficulty breathing.  Stop your medication unless the doctor advises otherwise.

Do not take an antibiotic that was ordered for someone else.

Keep all medications out of the reach of children.

Know What You Are Taking
After the doctor evaluates your illness, he/she may order antibiotics that are suited to your particular illness or infection.  Occasionally an injection of antibiotic may be justified.  Ask the doctor to write down the name of your illness and medication.

Names of antibiotics are not always easy to remember.  You need to know what you are taking in case you need to see another doctor or have a medical emergency.

Make a list of the medications you take, how you take them, and keep the list with you at all times.

 Know What the Antibiotics Should Do
 Ask the doctor how you will be able to tell if the antibiotic is working.  When you know what effect the antibiotic should have, you can help your doctor determine if the medication and dosage are effective.

Find out if the antibiotic can cause any side effects like: dizziness, headache, diarrhea, rash, trouble sleeping.  Some of the side effects will go away during treatment.

Ask how soon you should notify the doctor should you experience any side effects.


Always Take as Directed
Follow the directions for taking the antibiotic.  The medication does not work, if you do not take it right.  Look for instructions , on the label of the bottle of antibiotics.  should you have any questions about how you are to take the medicine, always ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist.

You will need to know if the medication should be taken with food or on an empty stomach.

Ask if you should avoid dairy products, alcohol, antacids, or sunlight.

Take all the medication, even if you start to feel better.


For the Best Result
When you follow the tips in this brochure you'll be on your way to using antibiotics wisely.

The more you know about any medication, the better you'll be able to help the medication work for you.