Be Wise about Antibiotics
Many people think that antibiotics can make them feel better each time they are sick. This is not true. Antibiotics do not cure all illness. They only cure illness caused by bacteria. They do not cure illness caused by viruses.
Bacteria are smart. They try to stay alive. They try to fight medicine. Every time bacteria sees an antibiotic it gets stronger. Strong bacteria are hard to kill. We have less medicine to fight strong bacteria.
Common Rumors and Truths
Rumor: You can stop your medicine when you feel well.
Truth: Take your medicine until it is gone. Strong bacteria take longer to die. If you stop your medicine early the strong bacteria may stay alive. Strong bacteria could start a new infection.
Rumor: You can take medicine left over from the last time you were sick.
Truth: Never take medicine from another sickness. You may have a different kind of bacteria. You may need a different antibiotic. You will not have enough pills to kill all of the strong bacteria.
Rumor: You can take someone else’s medicine.
Truth: Never take someone else’s medicine. You may be allergic. The medicine may not kill your bacteria. You will not have enough pills to kill all of the strong bacteria.
Rumor: Antibiotics can kill a cold or flu virus. You will feel better faster with medicine.
Truth: Antibiotics only kill infection from a bacteria. Some common infections from a bacteria are in wounds, urinary tract, bladder, throat, ears, and lungs. Some common infections from a virus are cold, influenza, and herpes.
Rumor: You can take an antibiotic to prevent illness.
Truth: Some people do take antibiotics to prevent illness. These people have other health problems that put them at risk. These health problems could be HIV/AIDS or Cancer.
Here’s the Good News
Antibiotics have been around for more than fifty years. They are great medicines if we use them right. This means we use them for the right illness. This means we take them until they are gone. This means we do not use them too much.
Each bacteria is different. Your doctor will choose the right medicine for you.
What you can do
Follow your doctor’s advice.
Know you may have an infection from a virus. Antibiotics will not help.
Take your medicine until it is gone. Do not stop it early.
Never take an old antibiotic. Throw out old medicine.
Never take someone else’s antibiotic. Call your doctor if you are not getting better.
For additional information, you can visit the Learning Center located just off the D elevators on the 6th floor or call 1-608-265-3276. There is a short video available for your viewing and more written information.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 09/09/2013
Copyright © 09/09/2013 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#5239
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