Let your an­tibi­otic run its course


Gulf News - - NATION -

eel­ing bet­ter af­ter a nasty virus may lead you to ditch the rest of your an­tibi­otic pre­scrip­tion, un­aware of the ad­verse ef­fect you may be caus­ing your body.

An­tibi­otics are med­i­ca­tions that kill or slow down the growth of bac­te­ria, and are pre­scribed for the treat­ment of in­fec­tions caused by bac­te­ria. They are of­ten pre­scribed for pneu­mo­nia, whoop­ing cough, uri­nary tract in­fec­tions, and in­fected wounds.

While im­prove­ment symp­toms are a pos­i­tive in­di­ca­tion the medicine pre­scribed is do­ing its job, it does not nec­es­sar­ily mean the in­fec­tion is com­pletely gone, said Dr Mon­al­isa Panda, mi­cro­bi­ol­o­gist at Thum­bay Hos­pi­tal.

“If an an­tibi­otic course is stopped be­fore it is com­pleted, then the bac­te­ria caus­ing the in­fec­tion may mu­tate to be­come re­sis­tant to that par­tic­u­lar an­tibi­otic,” ex­plained Dr Panda.

A short and in­com­plete an­tibi­otic course can “de­stroy the harm­less pro­tec­tive bac­te­ria that live in and on the body, al­low­ing re­sis­tant bac­te­ria to mul­ti­ply and re­place them,” she said.

If one has an an­tibi­otic-re­sis­tant bac­te­rial in­fec­tion, the in­di­vid­ual may take longer to get well, may be more likely to have com­pli­ca­tions of the in­fec­tion, and may be con­ta­gious. “An in­di­vid­ual with a re­sis­tant bac­te­rial in­fec­tion would need a higher gen­er­a­tion of an­tibi­otic, which may have more side-ef­fects on the body,” to treat the same in­fec­tion he once caught but did not treat prop­erly, said Dr Panda. How­ever, while it’s im­por­tant for pa­tients to com­plete the course of an­tibi­otics, it is equally re­quired that doc­tors pre­scribe cor­rect, and prefer­ably short cour­ses.

Dr Panda re­ferred to emerg­ing ev­i­dence show­ing that shorter cour­ses of an­tibi­otics may be just as ef­fec­tive as longer cour­ses for some in­fec­tions.

“Shorter treat­ments have great ad­van­tages — they are more likely to be com­pleted prop­erly, have fewer side ef­fects and also likely to be cheaper. They also re­duce the ex­po­sure of bac­te­ria to an­tibi­otics, thereby re­duc­ing the speed by which the pathogen de­vel­ops re­sis­tance,” she added.

Com­plex chem­i­cals

Sim­i­larly, Dr Fabrizio Fac­chini, Con­sul­tant Pul­mo­nolo­gist at Valiant Clinic, de­scribed an­tibi­otics as “doc­tors’ weapon to kill bac­te­ria,” point­ing out that an­tibi­otics, which are com­plex chem­i­cals in­tro­duced to the body, can cause al­ler­gic re­ac­tions and at spe­cific doses, can even poi­son the body.

“An­tibi­otics have been pre­scribed to kill spe­cific bac­te­ria caus­ing the symp­toms, how­ever, they can kill any bac­te­ria they are ac­tive on — if they are able to reach the right con­cen­tra­tion at any spe­cific tis­sue or or­gan of the body,” he said.

This im­plies that an­tibi­otics are not ac­tive against re­sis­tant bac­te­ria and can kill good bac­te­ria too.

“This in­creases the risk of fur­ther nasty in­fec­tions. So over­all, an­tibi­otics carry se­vere risks that should be weighed against the at­tended ben­e­fits,” said Dr Fac­chini.

Rex Fea­tures

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