Always Finish Your Course of Antibiotics, Right?
A report published in the BMJ suggests it might be time to re-think the long-held belief that you should always finish your complete course of prescribed antibiotic treatment. The thinking has been that stopping the medication early—when you’re feeling better, for example—may undertreat the infection and fuel antibiotic resistance. But that may not be the case.
According to a team of researchers in England, using antibiotics for longer than necessary increases the risk of resistance, and reducing the use of antibiotics is necessary to combat this alarming problem. In some cases, a short course of antibiotics—three to five days—works just as well as a longer course to treat many types of infection.
But the subject remains controversial within the medical community. Many health care providers say it’s far too early to change prescription antibiotic directions they give their patients. For now, if your health care provider prescribes antibiotics, it’s important to carefully follow the instructions for taking the medication.