July 25, 2018
Antibiotics are a broad group of medications that fight bacterial infections generally by either destroying the cell wall or preventing them from multiplying further. There are different classes of antibiotics. They are often prescribed depending on the types of bacteria that have been known to cause those kinds of infections (empirical) or have been specifically found to be present and sensitive to it (from the results of a test).
When on a course of antibiotics, you should:
Respect the schedule
So that your doses are equally spaced and the level of antibiotics in your bloodstream can be at a steady state for the constant bombardment of the infection until it clears:
Once daily means take at about the same time every day
Twice daily means every 12 hours
Thrice daily means every 8 hours
Four times daily means every 6 hours.
Don’t skip a dose or just take it whenever you feel like. Setting your alarm can help you to stay on schedule. Also, keeping your medication in your pocket or bag allows you to take it even on the go instead of waiting until you get home or to the office.
Never double your dosage
If you do forget to take a dose, it is not advisable that you double the dosage of the next. Rather, just take it as soon as you remember and then readjust your schedule or wait until the next dose and do your best to keep to the schedule till the end.
Never break or crush a tablet or open a capsule unless specifically directed to. Doing any of these may render the medication useless because they were designed to be taken as a whole.
Observe the right food/drink regimens
Some antibiotics like tetracycline, amoxylclav (Augmetin) and azithromycin (Zithromax) are best absorbed on an empty stomach while others like metronidazole (Flagyl) and Ibuprofen are best taken with or immediately after food to reduce the side effects but a good number of others like amoxicillin and ciprofloxacin (ciprotab) are not affected by the presence or absence of food. However, if taking a drug without food gives you a tummy upset, then you may be instructed to take eat something before taking it.
Watch what you eat or drink when you are on medications
It’s not enough just to eat. Your food or drink may affect the efficacy of your antibiotic or have serious effects on your body. So do not take grapefruit within 72 hours of taking clarithromycin or erythromycin. Consuming alcohol is a no-no for many medications but taking metronidazole (Flagyl), or others in that family, may leave you with a terrible headache and metallic taste at the back of your mouth. Also. milk and dairy products reduce the amount of tetracycline that the body gets. There are other food-drug interactions that you should be aware of.
Take enough water
Some antibiotics can form crystals in your kidneys so you need to flush them out. Generally, keeping properly hydrated helps your system eliminate the breakdown products of any medication you use.
7. Always finish your medications even if you quickly feel better
The moment you feel fine, it is natural to want to stop using your drugs but don’t do that. You would only be helping to create resistant strains such that the infection may rebound or become worse to treat for you or for someone else. Common duration of treatment are 3, 5, 7, 10, 14, 28 days or even for months. The recommended duration depends on the type of antibiotics, the type and severity of the condition and your background information.
8. Don’t stop your medications without informing your doctor.
Medications often have undesirable side effects. These may be expected (like nausea with Flagyl) or unpredictable (hence known as idiosyncratic). Adverse drug reactions vary from mild itching to life-threatening symptoms (like breathing difficulty or severe blistering on the skin).
You should, therefore, seek medical help immediately if it is a serious reaction but if it is mild to moderate, you should ask your doctor for measures to handle those effects. Examples of these measures are from anti-histamines like Piriton against itching to an anti-emetic for vomiting or completely switching antibiotics.
9. Be a smart patient:
Do remind your doctor of any drug allergies and reactions that you know of, your pregnancy status, and other medications you are using currently. This is one of the things you must remember to do during every consultation. Then crosscheck the medication when you get it from the pharmacy and also spend some time to read the leaflet and better educate yourself. You should know about whatever goes into your body.
10. Don’t self-medicate and do not share medication with others.
Doctors have so many reasons for prescribing medications and these are peculiar to each situation. This is why you should not repeat a medicine or suggest the same to another person simply because it worked when you had ‘it’ the other time!
In a world teeming with microbes, almost everyone would eventually come down with one bacterial infection or the other which require antibiotics. Therefore being better educated about antibiotics is useful for you or your loved ones. Do have any queries about your health or need a second opinion? Then get a doctor’s consultation any time you need it on doctordial.ng.