Did you know the discovery of penicillin, the world’s first mass-produced antibiotic, was an accident? In 1928, Alexander Fleming returned to his lab after a vacation and found that a fungus had contaminated the bacteria he had been studying, and the fungus was secreting a substance that was killing the bacteria. This happy accident earned Fleming a Nobel Prize and penicillin the nickname of a “wonder drug.” When used correctly, antibiotics do indeed have the power to save many lives, but now, their misuse is posing a significant threat to public health— the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Fortunately, by following these tips, you can get the maximum benefit from antibiotics when you’re sick, protect yourself from the dangers of antibiotic misuse, and do your part to combat antibiotic resistance in the world:
- Know what antibiotics can and can’t do. Antibiotics can help treat some bacterial infections, like strep throat, whooping cough and UTIs, just to name a few. They will not make you feel better if you’re infected with a virus, like the common cold, flu, or COVID-19, and taking antibiotics for a viral infection only puts you at risk for experiencing side effects.
- If you are prescribed an antibiotic, follow the instructions of your healthcare provider exactly. Don’t share your antibiotics with anyone else or take antibiotics prescribed to someone else, and don’t skip a dose, even if you think you feel better.
- Tell your healthcare provider if you develop any side effects or reactions while taking antibiotics. Some possible antibiotic side effects include rash, nausea, and diarrhea. They can be minor or life-threatening, and they may indicate an allergy or a more severe infection.
- Continue practicing good hygiene. This reduces your chances of falling sick, so that you don’t have to take antibiotics in the first place, and it also helps keep the people around you safe. This is a win-win situation, so keep washing your hands and covering your face with a mask!
Knowing how to use antibiotics correctly is so important that the CDC has designated the week of November 18-24, 2020, as Antibiotic Awareness Week. Now that you know what to do and what not to do, it would be a great idea to take a few minutes to tell a friend about what you’ve learned. And as always, remember to stay healthy and stay safe!
–The Wellness and Stress Clinic Team