Why It’s Important to Take Antibiotics When You Have an Infection

Antibiotics are a beneficial medication that help fight and rid the body of infection.  Different antibiotics work in different ways to treat a myriad of infections.  Not only is it important to take antibiotics when your doctor prescribes them for a specific infection but it is important to take the right antibiotics for the full length of time prescribed.  Antibiotics can sometimes be controversial because, if overprescribed or abused, your body can build up a resistance to the antibiotics. And if that happens, you may not be able to use those antibiotics when you need them most later on because your body will not respond to them.

First, it is important to clarify that antibiotics will only work against bacterial infections, not viral infections.  If your infection is deemed viral your doctor will not prescribe antibiotics. So, even if you have cold or the flu and just want to feel better, taking antibiotics may seem like a good idea but it will not actually do anything to help treat that type of infection. Kaiser Permanente explains how antibiotics work to treat bacterial infections and why they are beneficial, “Antibiotics are strong medicines that treat bacterial infections…Common illnesses caused by bacteria are urinary tract infections, strep throat, and some pneumonia. Antibiotics can treat bacterial infections by killing the bacteria that causes them.”  Kaiser Permanente goes on to list examples of when to use antibiotics including ear pain, sinus infection, cough or bronchitis, sore throat, cold or flu (when persistent or deemed necessary by you physician).

If your doctor does prescribe you antibiotics for your infection it is important to take them as directed by your physician and to finish all of the prescribed doses – even if symptoms go away and you are feeling better.  This is important because it prevents the infection from rapidly returning.  While nobody wants to develop antibiotic resistance and there are many ways to avoid doing so, antibiotics are some of the most beneficial medical treatments invented.  Antibiotics can literally save lives by stopping infection from spreading or bacteria from reproducing.  Even if an illness seems relatively minor but you are prescribed antibiotics, take them, because the infection could worsen and lead to other health problems that are dangerous and more complicated to treat.