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Five things you should know about antibiotics

Does this sound familiar. You weren't feeling very well when you went to the doctor about the pain in your ear. He diagnosed you with an ear infection and prescribed antibiotic medication. You felt so bad, you really didn't listen to what he had to say. When you got home you popped a pill and wondered why you didn't feel better immediately. You stopped taking those useless little pills after just one dose, because it didn't seem to be working.

If you do this, you are putting your health in serious jeopardy. Misusing antibiotics can result in a worsening illness, an antibiotic resistant infection, and even an unintended pregnancy.

Here are a few basic things you should know about antibiotics. Please ask your doctor for more information.

· Antibiotics only treat bacterial infections. A viral infection, such as the common cold, can not be cured with antibiotics.

· Always read the instructions carefully and listen to the doctor. Ask him to write it down, if you are a bit forgetful, or ask him to explain it in simple terms if you did not really understand. When the instructions are left unread you can either overdose or not take enough of what was prescribed to you. It's important to know the dosage amount, how long to take the medication and any other information that would be useful to your health. The prescription label also includes information about possible drug interactions. Some medications must be taken on a full stomach and some on an empty stomach. Don't be afraid to discuss the medication with your pharmacist.

· Finish the complete round of medication as directed. Just because you're feeling better doesn't mean you can stop.

Sometimes there may still be some bacteria hanging around that can flare up again. Some antibiotics also take a few days to kick in.

· Never take someone else's antibiotic prescription. You may be misdiagnosing yourself. Different bacterial infections are treated with different medications.

· The doctor should know if you are pregnant or nursing. There's a higher possibility of birth defects when taking antibiotics during the first trimester, and some antibiotics can be passed to the baby in breast milk.

· If you are female, be aware that certain types of antibiotics can interfere with oral birth control, and you may need to use another form of protection until your next cycle. Again talk to your doctor or pharmacist about it.

· Some “natural” supplements can also interfere with antibiotics so inform you doctor of all medications you are taking including vitamins.

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Published August 21, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated August 21, 2013 at 10:15 am)

Five things you should know about antibiotics

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