When we go to the doctor and are prescribed medication, it is important to take it exactly as prescribed. However, when it comes to antibiotics, several of us may be guilty of not following through and taking the entire prescription as prescribed. For this reason, it is important to understand the responsible way to take prescribed antibiotics.
Smart Use of Antibiotics
Antibiotics can only effectively treat a few specific infections that are caused by bacteria such as strep throat, whooping cough, and a urinary tract infection. Antibiotics will not work on viruses like colds, runny noses, sore throats with the exception of strep, the flu, and most chest colds. They also don't always work on some of the more common bacterial infections, including sinus and ear infections. If you choose to take antibiotics when they are actually not even needed, they won't help anything, and their side effects can cause problems.
Take All Antibiotics as Prescribed
So, when you are prescribed antibiotics, take them exactly as directed by your doctor. You also should never share your antibiotics with anyone else, don't save them for a later time, and don't take them if they were not prescribed to you. Doing so can delay treatment, cause adverse health problems, and can even make you even sicker than you already may be.
Understand the Side Effects and Allergic Reactions
It is important to talk with both your pharmacist and doctor about the common side effects of taking our antibiotics. Some of the more common side effects include rash, nausea, diarrhea, and yeast infections. Other, more serious, side effects can include a severe allergic reaction and antibiotic-resistant infections.
Other Steps for Responsible Antibiotic Use
In order to keep yourself, your family, and the community safe, you need to follow these steps for more responsible antibiotic use.
Minimize Infection Risk
To avoid overusing antibiotics, you should do what you can to reduce the chances of becoming sick in the first place. To do this, avoid anyone who is sick, wash your hands often, refrain from touching your eyes, mouth, and nose, and stay up to date on your vaccinations.
You should also educate yourself on what antibiotics can treat. Antibiotics can only treat bacterial infections and cannot fight viral infections, as we have already mentioned. So if you have the flu or the common cold, antibiotics will not work. If you use them for something they are not intended for, you can ultimately increase your likelihood of resistance, which can lead to devastating side effects for your health.
Don't Use Old Antibiotics
Never use leftover antibiotics either. They should only be taken after talking with your doctor and having it prescribed. It is meant to treat the symptoms you are currently experiencing.
Paying for Antibiotics
After you have been to the doctor and have been prescribed an antibiotic, you need to get the prescription filled so you can immediately start taking them as prescribed by the doctor. Antibiotics typically only treat short term, acute conditions, so they are never really prescribed for long term use for chronic conditions. So, when it comes time to fill your prescription and pay, you want to find the lowest price possible.
They also often don't count toward your health insurance deductible either, which can make them even more of a pain to pay for out of pocket. The cost of each antibiotic depends on what it is and if you have insurance drug coverage to help cover some or all of the cost.
You can't purchase antibiotics over the counter, either. They always require a prescription. If you find it hard to come up with the money to pay out of pocket for your prescription, there are several ways you can save.
A Walgreens prescription discount card is just one of those ways. When you choose a discount program, you can find the lowest possible price on your medication so you can save money without having to go without the medicine you need. With a Walgreens prescription discount card, it is possible to save up to 85 percent on medication at Walgreens using this free card. There are no fees to join, and you can use it immediately to start saving money.
Consequences of Antibiotic Resistance
Since we have been coming up with new antibiotics, we have been able to stay ahead of the development of antibiotic resistance. However, resistance has recently begun increasing, which is causing a number of health care issues. Medication-resistant infections can cause more serious illness, longer recovery times, more frequent and longer hospitalization, more doctor visits, and more expensive treatments.
To avoid this kind of resistance, you should refrain from pressuring your doctor to prescribe antibiotics. Instead, ask for alternative treatments that can be used. If they can offer you any other practical advice, they will. They do not want to prescribe antibiotics unless they feel it is absolutely necessary for your treatment.
As previously mentioned, you also want to do everything within your power to avoid bacterial infections. Practice good hygiene, make sure you are up to date on vaccinations that protect against certain bacterial infections like whooping cough and reduce your risk of getting a foodborne illness as well.
These means don't drink raw milk, wash your hands regularly, and make sure that all of your food is being cooked to a safe internal temperature. Finally, if you are prescribed antibiotics, don't stop taking them as soon as you feel better. You need to run through the entire course of treatment, or you risk the infection coming back even stronger. So, when we say to avoid taking old, leftover antibiotics, you shouldn't even have any left to begin with.
Following this advice will help you take your antibiotics more responsibly. If you find yourself prescribed antibiotics but are having a hard time paying the cost out of pocket, make sure to look into discount cards and programs that can help ensure that you receive the medication and treatment you need to get better.
Owner, entrepreneur, and health enthusiast.
Chris is one of the Co-Founders of Pharmacists.org. An entrepreneur at heart, Chris has been building and writing in consumer health for over 10 years. In addition to Pharmacists.org, Chris and his Acme Health LLC Brand Team own and operate Diabetic.org and the USA Rx Pharmacy Discount Card powered by Pharmacists.org.
Chris has a CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) designation and is a proud member of the American Medical Writer’s Association (AMWA), the International Society for Medical Publication Professionals (ISMPP), the National Association of Science Writers (NASW), the Council of Science Editors, the Author’s Guild, and the Editorial Freelance Association (EFA).
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