High Contrast

Healthcare 101: How to Safely and Effectively Use Antibiotics

Antibiotics are extremely effective at relieving bacterial infection symptoms and speeding up the recovery process. However, many strains of bacteria have developed resistance to antibiotics – you may have heard of these referred to as “superbugs.” Through improper use and overuse of antibiotics, these bacteria have become virtually unresponsive to antibiotics that were once highly effective. That sounds scary — what can you do about that? As a consumer, it’s important to know how to safely and correctly use antibiotics so that they can benefit your body and relieve your bacterial infections without creating resistance. Test your knowledge about antibiotics with this quiz from the CDC!

Prevent Overuse:

Only use antibiotics when they are absolutely necessary to treat bacterial infections.

Your body’s immune system is capable of fighting infectious bacteria, but medication can help your body be more effective by killing the infectious bacteria or slowing its growth. Therefore, your clinician will only prescribe antibiotics when you have a bacterial infection that they feel you can’t naturally ward off on your own. Remember: antibiotics can only fight bacteria. They are not effective in treating viral infections, so you should always consult a medical professional for testing to determine whether your infection is bacterial or viral to rule out antibiotic treatment when it is not required. 

Prevent Improper Use:

Know how to effectively use antibiotics.

  • Take the antibiotic for the entire time period it was prescribed. Do not stop taking the medication if you start to feel better. Although it may ease your symptoms, the antibiotic is only effective if you take it for its entire course. 

  • Follow the written instructions on the label. Take note of any warning labels, side effects or recommendations. Some antibiotics will need to be taken with food or plenty or water.

  • If you forget to take a dose, take it immediately and then continue with your regular schedule. Do not double up doses.

  • Drink extra water throughout the entire course of antibiotics. This will flush out your system and aid in the proper function of the medication.