Antibiotics are important tools to kill bacteria. There are more than 150 kinds of antibiotics, among them such as erythromycin, penicillin and tetracycline. Thousands of lives have been saved from bacterial infection with antibiotics. But many people look to them as a panacea. When they have a cold, they ask their doctors to give antibiotics without knowing what caused their illnesses. Antibiotics cannot cure illness caused by parasites or viruses. Inappropriate use of antibiotics can kill some bacteria beneficial to the human body.
1. Antibiotics is neither
antiphlogistic nor antipyretic
Many people who have sore throat think it is a throat inflammation and they take antibiotics to cure it. But antibiotics cannot reduce inflammation. Moreover, the common cold and flu are caused by viruses, and antibiotics are useless. Most people take antibiotics because they mistakenly believe they are identical to antiphlogistics, a type of medicine generally regarded as an anodyne- like Aspirin, which can directly ease pain.
Other people take antipyretics instead of antiphlogistics because the former can bring down the fever. But antibiotics can do the same. So some people take antibiotics instead of antipyretics. Some others ask doctors to give them antibiotics when they have running nose or sputum that they think is caused by bacteria. However, this is not advisable.
Antibiotics work by killing bacteria. People mistake antibiotics as antiphlogistics because when antibiotics kill bacteria, they also ease inflammation. But not all antibiotics can ease inflammation. Inflammations are caused by either bacteria or viruses. But antibiotics could only cure those caused by bacteria. Viral inflammations cannot be cured by antibiotics. Moreover, using them also disturbs the body's immune system.
2. Don't use antibiotics
when you catch a cold
The common cold is caused by viruses so there is no need to use antibiotics. But infectious diseases such as bacteria pneumonia need antibiotics. Only the doctor can diagnose whether an infection was caused by bacteria or virus.
Eighty to 90 percent of upper respiratory tract infections are caused by viruses. Such viral infections could be cured by the body's immune system within two weeks. An adult usually catches a cold two to three times a year; children eight to ten times a year. Using antibiotics to treat a cold caused by virus could make the virus resistant to the antibiotics. You may need antibiotics if your fever lasts more than 7 days and the doctor diagnoses that you have bacteria induced tympanitis, nasosinusitis or pharyngitis.
3. Always consult a doctor
and follow his prescription
When you go to see a doctor, always ask three questions: "Do I have a bacterial or viral infection?" "Do I need to take antibiotics?" "How should I take the antibiotics?"
One of the ways to kill bacteria is to take antibiotics at regular intervals and in the same dosage to maintain a constant amount in the bloodstream. Every kind of antibiotics has its therapeutic level, which indicates how long a person needs to take them for. If you take antibiotics in too low a dose, the bacteria can't be killed. But taking too much could be harmful to your body. So the only way is to obey the doctor and visit him again once you have recovered from the sickness.
Different kinds of antibiotics have different effective periods. Thus they have different dosages. If you take too much, your body might not bear the dosage. If you take antibiotics irregularly, the bacteria in your body might develop a resistance to them. If you think you have totally recovered and suddenly stop taking them or change to other antibiotics, you will get ill again because the resistant bacteria can survive.
Recently, medical research has discovered that in upper respiratory tract bacteria infections, such as S. pneumonia, Haemophilus influenza and Morazella catarrhalis have higher antibiotics resistance than before.
4. Antibiotics are better taken before or after meals?
Contrary to what many people think, antibiotics are not harmful to the stomach. However, taking them after meals could decrease the body's ability to absorb antibiotics. What we should pay attention to is that when taken with milk, the calcium in the milk will decrease the effect of antibiotics. Thus we should take antibiotics with water.
The usual ways to take oral antibiotics are as capsules or in a liquid form. Liquid antibiotics are usually for children. Before letting children take them, be sure the dose is correct. If you remember that you have not yet taken a scheduled dosage, you should take it immediately and take the next one according to the schedule. But if it is already close to the time for the next scheduled dosage, let it go and just take the next one. Never take double dosages.
5. Never give antibiotics to others
There are many reasons why people will get sick. Even though two persons have the same symptoms, this doesn't mean that they have the same sickness and need identical treatment. Leftover antibiotics could cause other pathogenic effects. Moreover, leftover antibiotics may not be effective in curing new infections.
The best way is to see a doctor who can diagnose your illness and prescribe the appropriate treatment.