More specifically: You may be taking them for too many days, if new UK data ends up mirroring what’s happening in the states. A study published in BMJ suggests that prescribed antibiotics in the United Kingdom are often taken for longer than the recommended guidelines, which can lead to antibiotic resistance (superbugs!) as well as worse stomach pain and diarrhea.
Researchers from Public Health England, the University of Oxford, and Brighton and Sussex Medical School examined oral antibiotic prescriptions for 13 acute medical conditions, including acute sinusitis, ear infections, sore throat, bronchitis, pneumonia, and urinary tract infections. They found that the durations of antibiotic treatments generally exceeded usage guidelines — that is, the meds were prescribed for longer than indicated. In cases of respiratory infections like bronchitis and pneumonia, more than 80 percent of antibiotic courses were longer than recommended. The antibiotic prescriptions were written by primary care doctors in England from 2013 to 2015.
Courses of antibiotics vary in length, depending on several factors. They’re usually prescribed for 7 to 10 days, but can be used for as many as 28 days in some cases (prostatitis, for example). To make sure you’re taking antibiotics safely, check these tips.