Antibiotics – when to say no!

Infections initials 5th. When we feel ill, we go straight to the doc for antibiotics to feel better. The problem is: in some cases, antibiotics are the worst thing you can take! Do you know what antibiotics do to your body?

What are antibiotics, actually?

Firstly, antibiotics don’t help fight viruses, only bacterial infections. So, if your doc has confirmed you have a virus, ask him how to manage it. If you deal with it correctly – lots of rest, fluid and medication to manage the symptoms – your body can recover on its own.

That way, your doctor won’t have to prescribe an antibiotic!

Antibiotics attack the specific bad bacteria that is causing your infection. But each antibiotic can only treat a specific infection.

For example: If you have a chest infection, the same medication will not be able to cure the bacteria responsible for a stomach infection.

Taking antibiotics when you shouldn’t:

If you’re given an inappropriate medication, it won’t treat the actual infection. On top of that, you will still have side-effects from the drug. This can lead to overusing medication because your treatment hasn’t worked.

The dangers of overuse

Overuse of antibiotics comes with its own set of complications, which will make you feel even worse. It can:

  • Upset the good bacteria in your gut: What! Bacteria in my gut? Yes, this may seem off-putting, but not all bacteria is bad – you actually need it to keep a healthy immune and digestive system; antibiotics upset this balance, by killing both the good and bad bacteria. What can I do? Ask your doctor to prescribe a probiotic. This is something you take after your course of antibiotics, to bring back the good bacteria killed by the antibiotics.
  • Cause antibiotic resistance: By overusing antibiotics, infections that were once easily treated are now becoming more difficult to treat. Why does this happen? Bacteria learn how to protect themselves from the medication. Cause chronic (even fatal) diarrhoea in kids: The overuse of antibiotics can have fatal effects on children. Over-prescribing makes kids more vulnerable to getting antibiotic-resistant strains of a bacteria (known as C. diff) that causes severe diarrhoea.
  • A ‘Superbug’ may be created: A ‘superbug’ is a type of bacteria that is resistant to a range of antibiotics. An example would be Extensively Drug-resistant TB (XDR TB), and medicines for this strain is very expensive. A worldwide urinary tract infection called Escherichia coli (E. coli), has also become resistant to many antibiotics. There is no doubt that antibiotics are important for treating infections; it’s the side-effects of misuse and overuse that have become a serious problem.
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So, if you’ve been on antibiotics more than once this year, speak to your doctor about the possible side-effects before agreeing to take another course.

Sources: KidsHealth, NPS.org, HealthLine, Learn Genetics