Thanks to antibiotics, many infections and diseases that were once debilitating or even life threatening can now be cured with a simple course of pills. However, all too often, once people begin to feel better, they may quit taking their antibiotics. Unfortunately, this can lead to serious problems that put you and others at risk.
Why People May Stop Taking Their Antibiotics Early
While the patient is sick and experiencing the worst symptoms of their infection, there is a strong incentive for them to continue taking their antibiotics: they want to feel better. Unfortunately, this motive evaporates once the patient begins to get well and if there is still medication left many quit taking it. This could happen for numerous reasons including the following common scenarios:
- The patient simply forgets to keep taking their antibiotics because they don’t feel sick and their illness is no longer on their minds.
- The patient hopes to keep the remaining antibiotics for later in case they get sick again or in case a family member gets sick.
- The patient is experiencing side effects or concerned about developing side effects and wants to stop treatment as soon as possible.
- The patient believes stopping treatment early is the best decision for their health.
The Risks of Stopping Antibiotic Treatment Early
There are major risks associated with stopping antibiotic treatment early:
Relapse – The antibiotics may have killed enough of the bacterial infection that the patient feels better, but that doesn’t mean the patient is completely well. Remaining bacteria could multiply and cause the patient to relapse if antibiotic treatment is stopped early.
Antibiotic Resistance – Perhaps the most frightening consequence of stopping antibiotic treatment early is antibiotic resistance. This occurs when some of the bacteria survive treatment and then replicate, spreading their resistant genes to a new generation of the bacteria where they can then further strengthen and spread. Since bacteria reproduces so quickly diseases are able to develop drug resistant strains very quickly. However, by taking antibiotics as recommended and finishing your prescription, it is less likely that bacteria will survive long enough to become resistant to the medication.
Thus by finishing your antibiotics you can protect yourself from relapse and others from infection by a more serious, potentially deadly antibiotic resistant strain of the disease. Always talk to your doctor before taking, or stopping taking, a prescription medication. Don’t take other people’s medications and don’t self-medicate with antibiotics or other drugs if your illness has not been diagnosed by a doctor. By following these simple practices you can help reduce your risk of serious, prolonged infections and help combat the rise of antibiotic resistant strains of diseases.
Golden Triangle Emergency Center’s goal is always to provide the resources, including health information our community needs to stay safe and healthy. However, when sickness or injuries do strike, Golden Triangle Emergency Center is there 24/7, 365 days a year with gold standard in emergency and industrial care.
Nutex Health, Inc supports you and your family’s health. You can depend on Golden Triangle Emergency Center or any one of our concierge-level, freestanding emergency facilities to deliver the emergency care you deserve, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.