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Friday, January 7, 2011

Proper Antibiotic Use

One of the most widely used classes of drugs is antibiotics, used to treat many kinds of infections. However, antibiotics are often taken in an unsafe manner, thus causing all kinds of problems. Antibiotics are intended to treat bacterial infections such as strep throat or urinary tract infections, yet many people take them for the common cold or flu, which are caused by viruses.

Here is a list of what is a bacterial infection and what is a viral infection:

Bacterial Infections:

Some ear infections
Severe sinus infections
Strep throat
Urinary tract infections
Many wound and skin infections

Viral Infections:

Most ear infections
Influenza (flu)
Most coughs
Most sore throats
Stomach flu (viral gastroenteritis)

Improper use of antibiotics can lead to drug-resistance, which means that an antibiotic becomes less effective against infections.

Here are some things that you should NOT do:

Take antibiotics for viral infections (listed above)
Take someone else's prescription
Stop taking medicine before the specified time

Here are some things you should DO:

Follow the label directions carefully
Take ALL your medicine for the specified time, even if you start feeling better

For more in-depth information, here are some great links:

Antibiotics: When They Can and Can't Help (American Academy of Family Physicians)

Antimicrobial (Drug) Resistance (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases)

Antibiotic Resistance (Food and Drug Administration)

Antibiotic-Associated Diarrhea (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)

Danger of Antibiotic Overuse (Nemours Foundation)

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