Antibiotics are so commonly used to treat illnesses now, you hardly think twice when your doctor writes you a prescription for your sinus infection. But do you really have all the facts about antibiotics? Read on for some pervasive myths about antibiotics and test your knowledge.
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Myths and Facts About Antibiotics
1. Take antibiotics at the first sign of a cold.
False. They aren’t effective in the treatment of illnesses caused by a virus, only bacteria. If you have a cold or the flu and you develop a secondary infection, like pneumonia, your doctor may then write you a prescription.
2. Keep taking your prescription, even if you feel better.
True. Take your prescribed antibiotics as long as your doctor tells you to, even if you’re not experiencing any symptoms. If you stop taking them too soon, some bacteria may survive and can make you sick all over again.
3. You can take your friend’s leftover antibiotics.
False. Not all antibiotics are effective in treating all bacteria. They may help you initially feel better, but in the long run, you could end up getting sicker. The same holds true for antibiotics you were previously prescribed when you’re dealing with a new illness.
4. Antibiotics can’t keep you from getting sick.
True. Antibiotics don’t generally function as a prophylactic. It can’t prevent you from getting sick, and that includes reducing your chances of getting a secondary infection from a virus. Furthermore, excessive use of antibiotics can lead to antibiotic resistance, meaning the bacteria in your body won’t respond to the treatment.
5. The more antibiotics you take, the more effective they become.
False. That is certainly a myth about antibiotics. Every course of antibiotics you take may increase the chances of resistance. And there’s no guarantee that one course won’t have the same effect as several. Plus, you could experience unwanted side effects, such as dizziness, nausea, hives, or even anaphylactic shock.
6. You shouldn’t mix antibiotics with other medications.
True and False. Tell your doctor if you’re taking any prescriptions, as these can sometimes react with certain antibiotics, according to the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care. Your doctor will be able to let you know if you need to hold off on taking your meds or if it’s OK. This also includes any vitamins or supplements you might be taking. Additionally, keep in mind that many antibiotics may interact with alcohol, so you should avoid alcoholic beverages when you’re on a course of antibiotics.
7. All antibiotic prescriptions are necessary.
False. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one-third of all antibiotic prescriptions are unnecessary. This over-usage, as well as other factors, can increase incidences of antibiotic resistance. Talk to your doctor if you’re concerned.
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