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For those of us who work in schools, have kids in schools, or have jobs that require a lot of meetings and handshaking, colds are almost inevitable. When you do get sick, you probably want to feel better as quickly as possible – but taking antibiotics that you don’t actually need or taking them differently than prescribed is actually highly dangerous.
Antibiotics prevent bacteria from growing and reproducing in the human body. They do not fight and prevent viruses. Viruses and bacteria are two vastly different things. Contrary to popular belief, the human body typically has a stronger resistance to viruses than bacteria because of the way they are formed. Bacteria are living organisms that exist on their own, but viruses are not living things and can only exist after they infiltrate your cells. That’s why it’s easier to fight off a virus before it affects you, while you can only really fight of bacteria once it has already affected you.
It’s important to go to the doctor when you’re sick because a doctor can help determine whether you have a virus or a bacteria and make sure you are prescribed the correct medication. Make sure you are completely honest when describing your symptoms so that the doctor doesn’t mistake your illness for something else.
Additionally, do not take antibiotics that are not yours or are leftover from a previous illness. For starters, antibiotics usually require that you finish out the entirety of your prescription even if you feel better before finishing it. Therefore, you should not ever have leftover antibiotics to use.
If you take antibiotics too often, your body will actually have a harder time fighting off bacteria. Your body will stop reacting against the bacteria and will accept it.
Additionally, antibiotics can kill good bacteria. Good bacteria are bacteria that your body naturally produces to aid in food digestion and gastrointestinal processes. If you take antibiotics when you don’t actually need them, the antibiotics may find their way to the bacteria that you actually need to keep, leaving with you with diarrhea, cramping, and digestive problems.
If you do find yourself with an antibiotic prescription, make sure you complete the prescription, even if you start to feel better. The medicine will take time to actually kill the bacteria, and you’ll be fighting off your cold for weeks if you don’t finish your prescription. If you finish the prescription and still have medicine leftover, discard it immediately. Chances are that it won’t be the right prescription for next time, so there’s no reason to hang on to it.
When in doubt, always ask a doctor. Take steps to avoid needing antibiotics, like washing your hands often, getting your vaccinations, eating healthy, and getting plenty of rest.