Antibiotics: Tips You Should Know

When you have an illness that requires medication your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic. Antibiotics are not prescribed for viral illnesses because antibiotics are not effective on viruses but only on bacteria.

It is important not to take antibiotics unnecessarily or unless your doctor has specifically prescribed one because your body can develop a resistance to antibiotics if they are used in appropriately which can make it even more difficult to treat you the next time you actually have a bacterial infection that could be helped by taking antibiotics.

Always Finish up Your Antibiotic Prescription – and the Reason Why

If you’ve ever received an antibiotic prescription you may have noticed that your doctor or the doctor’s nurse, or even the pharmacist where you filled your prescription will tell you to "finish the bottle" or to complete the full prescribed dose of antibiotics as indicated on the bottle. While this is important information to know, it is even more important for you to understand WHY you should always finish your antibiotic prescription and follow the specific directions that are provided on the bottle in terms of how many times a day that you take your antibiotic and the number of days that you should take it.

If you begin feeling better after taking antibiotics you may wonder (since you are feeling better) why you can’t just stop taking the antibiotic medication. After all, with problems such as headaches or sinus congestion, we would not normally continue taking medications once the initial episode resolves.

But with antibiotics it is a totally different story. While they can begin working in your body soon after starting a new course of antibiotics, if you stop the treatment before your prescribed medication is scheduled to finish, you could actually be doing more harm than if you had never even begun taking the antibiotic at all. The reason for this is that once antibiotics start to destroy the specific bacterial infection that you are trying to treat, that it will take a specific dose and number of days to completely eliminate the bacteria. If you start a dose and stop it before your doctor has instructed you to do so, you are giving remaining bacteria a chance to grow again, and since the remaining bacteria have not been completely killed, and have been "exposed" to a less than full course of antibiotics, they can now be resistant to antibiotic treatment and can multiply in your body and wreak even more havoc than they did prior to your starting the medicine.

So the bottom line is–always, always finish your antibiotics  and follow the instructions your health care provider has given you. Even if you are feeling better, keep on taking your medication until you have completed the fully prescribed course of treatment.