Sometimes no prescription is the best prescription for an infection, but if you get an antibiotic prescription be sure to take it exactly as prescribed, and for the full duration your doctor intended. Don’t take less, and definitely don’t save a few for later, or worse, give to someone else.
Why does your pharmacist make a hubbub about finishing your antibiotic, even if you start to feel better?
When bacteria is exposed to small amounts of antibiotic, insufficient in strength to kill, they can become resistant to the medication. When they multiply, all their offspring are also resistant. Imagine getting an infection that is no longer affected by antibiotics, as it multiplies in your body breaking down defences with no medications able to stop it. Now you can spread this resistant bacteria to others. The only hope would be that a person’s immune response would kill the infection on its own. That hope diminishes if you are immunocompromised, or have other conditions that make you vulnerable to a poor outcome. That same condition used to exist before the discovery of penicillin. Many people died of infections prior to penicillin, and lifespans of individuals were quite short.
We have a limited number of antibiotics, and we need to prevent the development of superbugs.
Quick review, take your antibiotics as prescribed, right to the end – so you don’t develop a resistant infection that can be passed to others.
So why is it sometimes not required to get a prescription antibiotic for an infection? Here are two common reasons:
- For minor infections, often the best course of action to prevent antibiotic resistance is to let your body do its thing – let your immune response do what it was made to do.
- If an infection is viral, no antibiotic will work, so if your doctor suspects a viral cause, you won’t be given a prescription.
What if you can’t take your antibiotic, you become allergic, you experience severe diarrhea or stomach pain? Call your doctor or pharmacist right away, so that you can be switched to an antibiotic that you can tolerate.
If you don’t get a prescription, ask your doctor when you should expect to feel better. If your condition does not start to improve as your doctor describes or your condition worsens with uncontrollable fever, or affects your breathing – seek immediate medical attention.