This post was written by Olusanya Oluwatomi and edited by Lani Sodunke.
Almost everyone is familiar with antibiotics. Once you have a cold, the next thing is to take an antibiotic; Acne? Take an antibiotic, Chest pain? Still do the same. Just like the very common Ampiclox, we believe it’s the answer to everything from preventing STIs, pregnancy, cleansing the system etc. This is actually not the case, and these are some of the ways in which we abuse antibiotics.
Antibiotics are prescription-only medicines meaning that they should only be used when prescribed by a physician or health professional. However, many of us keep demanding for them with the self-absorbed claim that we know what we are doing, while in reality, we do not.
Antibiotics are to be used a certain way once prescribed and taking the right dose of any antibiotic at the right time and duration of days cannot be overemphasized. For instance, let’s say you have a prescription for Metronidazole (Flagyl) 400mg to be used three times daily. You should not take them “as the spirit leads”. Keeping to the timing and religiously following instructions is crucial to avoid side-effects.
Here’s a little insight to how antibiotics work.
When you take the first dose, the medicine in your blood gets to the optimal level for killing the bacteria. But as hours go by, it starts dropping to a point where it cannot continue killing the microbes, which is why you need to take the next dose at the right time to keep the drug at the level needed to kill the microbes.
When that doesn’t happen, two scenarios are possible:
- You take the next dose later than required and the level of the drug would have a reduced effect in the blood, that the next dose might not increase the blood level to that previous level where it can continue killing the bacteria.
- If the next dose is taken earlier than required, the drug level rises and increases the severity of any side effects associated with that medicine.
Additionally, if you are to take the antibiotic for 5 days, you must complete the dose even if you feel better after two to three days. Once symptoms reduce or you feel a little better doesn’t mean the infection has been eliminated. Stopping the medication will cause the remaining bacteria to learn how to escape the effects of the drugs. The bacteria becomes resistant to that drug, and the next time you take antibiotics for the same infection, it just might not work.
When you feel uneasy and need to get medication, do this:
- Get the right drug: It should be prescribed by a physician or recommended by a pharmacist. They are the ones who can tell you what drug is best for a particular infection. Sometimes, they even recommend that certain tests are done before they conclude on the most appropriate antibiotic.
- The right dose: Follow your pharmacist’s instructions. Some antibiotics are dosed based on weight, and some based on age. So, don’t assume that because an adult uses a certain dose the same applies to you.
- The right interval: Keeping to the time interval is so important. Do well to use timers and medication reminders if necessary.
- The right duration: The urge to stop our antibiotics when we feel better is high, but taking it for the full duration recommended ensures the infection is totally eliminated.
In summary, the consequences of not taking antibiotics as directed by health professionals are very serious. Ensure you always consult a doctor in order to avoid any side effects or worse treatment.