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Antibiotic Myths Busted

Antibiotic Myths Busted

Antibiotics are powerful and important medicines that fight bacterial infections. When used properly and safely, antibiotics can save lives. Each antibiotic works a little differently for the many types of bacteria. Your doctor will decide which antibiotics will work best for your infection. The most important thing when it comes to this type of medication is to be smart about using them. There are many misconceptions and myths regarding antibiotics which can often lead to misuse. Check out these common myths about antibiotics to help ensure that you are getting the most out of treatment safely and correctly.


Myth: I should take antibiotics if I have a cold or the flu.

Fact: Colds and flus are caused by viruses, not bacteria. In fact, taking antibiotics for these conditions can make you feel worse. You may experience an allergic reaction such as a rash or side effects such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. While sometimes these illnesses can be treated with an anti-viral (i.e. Tamiflu), many times, the virus must run its course and only the symptoms can be treated.  


Myth: It is okay to take someone else's antibiotics.

Fact: It is never appropriate to take someone else’s medication. Depending on the type of infection, the type of antibiotic prescribed may be different. For example, a drug used for a urinary tract infection (UTI) is not likely to help with a skin infection. Additionally, the medication could be expired or contaminated and may make you sicker.  


Myth: It is okay to stop taking my antibiotics if I feel better and start taking them again at a different time.

Fact: It is necessary to continue to take your course of antibiotics until it is finished. Otherwise you run the risk of bacteria continuing to grow and the infection returning. This comes with the risk of resistance to the medication, making it harder to clear.


Myth: If I do not take my antibiotics correctly it does not affect anyone but me.

Fact: While you may feel better and stop the medication, your infection is not fully cleared. By not taking antibiotics correctly, new strains of the bacteria can form that can now infect other people. This results in an increased number of doctor visits, stronger and more expensive medications, a longer duration or more complicated version of the infection, and even an increased number of deaths. Always follow the directions for proper use, do not skip doses and complete the full course of the medication.

Myth: If I take antibiotics, my oral birth control will stop being effective.

Fact: The only antibiotic that has been proven to reduce oral birth control effectiveness is rifampin, a drug used to treat tuberculosis.
However, while there are not large trials that show other antibiotics reduce effectiveness, there are case reports of birth control failure. Though this may be due to inaccurate use of oral birth control, other thoughts are that the antibiotic kills the healthy gut bacteria, changing absorption of birth control and potentially decreasing effectiveness. Based on this, it may be appropriate to use additional protection while being treated with antibiotics.

Talk with your healthcare professional about the best treatment options for your or your loves one’s illness. If treatment includes antibiotics, it is important that you take them exactly as prescribed. Community Care Physicians also offer resources for our patients with questions regarding medications and antibiotics with the help of our knowledgeable and trusted Pharmacy Team.


Written by: Community Care Physicians' PharmD Candidates 2019

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