Stop Believing These Myths About Antibiotics

Antibiotics are powerful and important medicines that fight bacterial infections, and when used properly and safely they can save lives. Each antibiotic works a little differently for the many types of bacteria, but there are many misconceptions about antibiotics that can often lead to misuse. Check out these common myths to help ensure that you're getting the most out of antibiotics safely and correctly. 


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


Fact: Colds and flu 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's okay to take someone else's antibiotics. 


Fact: It's 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 is not likely to help with a skin infection. Additionally, the medication could be expired or contaminated and may make you sicker. 


Myth: It's okay to stop taking my antibiotics when you feel better. 


Fact: It's necessary to continue to take your course of antibiotics until it's completely finished. Otherwise, you run the risk of bacteria continuing to grow and the infection returning and perhaps being even worse. 


Myth: If I don't take my antibiotics correctly it doesn't affect anybody 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, or a longer duration or more complicated version of the infection. Always follow the directions for proper use, DO NOT skip doses — take the medication until it is all gone.