When do I need to take antibiotics?
As a physician, I strive to use antibiotics only when necessary. Antibiotics are compounds capable of killing or inhibiting the growth of bacteria. They do nothing to other types of disease-causing microorganisms, such as viruses and fungi or the common cold. Antibiotics have revolutionized medicine and saved millions of lives but unnecessary prescribing and overuse of antibiotics has caused a resistance crisis. According to the CDC, antibiotic resistance caused an estimated 23,000 deaths annually in the US alone. Antibiotics are also one of the most common causes of reactions to medicines resulting in emergency department visits, especially for children.
These include allergic reactions ranging from an annoying rash to a life-threatening condition like anaphylaxis. Of course, it’s much better to not get sick, so the best thing you can do is to safeguard against contagious illnesses by being vigilant about washing your hands, avoid contact with or wear a mask when you’re around people coughing or sneezing, stay home when you are ill and make sure you are up to date on all immunizations. If you do end up taking antibiotics, be sure to complete the course and then replenish your system with probiotics.