Taking an Antibiotic? Here's How to Stay Safe

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Do no harm

When you’re ill, it’s understandable to want to shorten your misery and avoid a more serious infection, especially if you have other health conditions that can be complicated by a nasty bug. But taking an unnecessary antibiotic may cause far more harm than good.. Follow these tips to help you get well and avoid contributing to antibiotic resistance.

  1. Don't take leftover antibiotics

Without a diagnosis, you can’t know whether your infection is caused by the same bacteria or whether it’s caused by bacteria at all.

  1. Don't demand a prescription

Even though you may be disappointed with your doctor’s advice to rest, drink plenty of fluids, and use over-the-counter remedies like aspirin and saline nasal spray, those are most often the best options. Ask whether an antiviral medication is available for your illness.

  1. Do ask if you’re taking the right antibiotic

A sensitivity test, which tests your bacteria culture, may determine which antibiotic will kill the bacteria causing your illness. It typically takes 48 hours to get results.

  1. Do take an antibiotic exactly as prescribed

Continue the drug even if you feel better. If you stop the drug before all the bacteria are killed, surviving bacteria can grow and “learn” to resist the drug next time.

  1. Do stay well

Practice good hand-washing and hygiene habits to protect from infections. Eat right, exercise and get adequate rest to bolster your immune system.

  1. Do get vaccinated

Be sure to receive all the recommended immunizations, such as an annual flu shot and shingles and pneumonia vaccinations.