Here’s a very useful primer on antibiotics published just last week in Consumer Reports. It’s so good we’re leaving it in the original and will add just a few words, which are these: The crucial Myths are numbers 1 and 2, and we’ve written in greater detail on these subjects before.
With respect to Myth 1 – Antibiotics Can Cure Colds and the Flu, further information can be found here, A Message from the Harvard School of Public Health: Please Stop Asking for Antibiotics.
With Respect to Myth 2 – Antibiotics Have Few Side Effects, we’d refer you to our report on the work of New York University’s Martin Blaser, MD, Can Antibiotics Increase Your Chance of Getting an Infection?
And for those that want the video version of the 5 Myths, here you go:
Myth 1. They Can Cure Colds and the Flu:
Not so. Antibiotics work against only bacterial infections, not viral ones such as colds, the flu, most sore throats, and many sinus and ear infections.
Myth 2. They Have Few Side Effects:
Almost 1 in 5 emergency-room visits for drug side effects stems from antibiotics. In children, the drugs are the leading cause of such visits. Those side effects include diarrhea, yeast infections, and in rare cases, nerve damage, torn tendons, and allergic reactions that include rashes, swelling of the face or throat, and breathing problems. And the drugs can kill off good bacteria, increasing the risk of some infections, including C. difficile. At least 250,000 people a year now develop C. diff. infections linked to antibiotic use, and 14,000 die as a result.
Myth 3. A ‘Full Course’ Lasts at Least a Week:
Not always. A shorter course can work for some infections, such as certain urinary tract, ear, and sinus infections. So ask your doctor for the shortest course and lowest dose of antibiotics necessary to treat your infection
Myth 4. It’s Okay to Take Leftover Medication:
Nope. First, you may not need an antibiotic at all. And if you do, the leftovers may not be the right type or dose for your infection. Taking them could allow the growth of harmful and resistant bacteria. Return unused antibiotics to the pharmacy or mix them with coffee grounds or cat litter and toss in the trash.
Myth 5. All Bacterial Infections Require Drugs:
Mild ones sometimes clear up on their own. So ask your doctor whether you could try waiting it out.