Antibiotics are strong medicines that can kill bacteria; they have saved countless people from strep throat, urinary tract infections and pneumonia and other bacterial infections. But not all sickness is caused by bacteria and sometimes it is better to let the sickness run its course than to take antibiotics. The overuse of antibiotics has made them less effective. Severe infections, allergic reactions to drugs and deadly diarrhea can be caused by antibiotic resistant bacteria. The bacteria that cause these conditions can linger in healthcare facilities after a patient leaves making new patients, who are already ill vulnerable to healthcare acquired infections.
What you should do
- Learn which common illnesses are effectively treated with antibiotics and which are not. more
- Ask your healthcare provider if there are steps you can take to feel better and get relief from your symptoms without using antibiotics. Sometimes the best treatment for your illness may be relieving your symptoms, not an antibiotic.more
- Take the prescribed antibiotic exactly as your healthcare professional tells you.
If taken improperly, antibiotics are more likely to cause harm.
- Don't pressure your doctor into giving you antibiotics when he/she does not recommend them.
- Choose healthcare facilities that have a strong anti-microbial stewardship program.
- Stay current on your flu vaccination and other immunizations to keep you from getting an illness that might develop into a bacterial infection.
- Wash your hands, and take precautions to avoid getting infections which might require antibiotics.
- Properly dispose presciption medications if you're finished with a prescription medicine and you have pills left. An important part of the prescription medication life-cycle is how and where to dispose of them. Prevent Overdose RI has a detailed map of Rhode Island locations where prescription drugs as well as “sharps” (needles, syringes) can be properly disposed.