5 Questions to ask your doctor about Antibiotics – from Choosing Wisely
Use the following 5 questions to talk to your doctor about when you need antibiotics – and when you don’t. Antibiotics can help prevent or treat some infections. But if you use them for the wrong reason, they may cause unnecessary harm. Talk to your doctor to make sure you only use Antibiotics for the right reasons and at the right time, and say I’M Wise!
1. Do I really need Antibiotics?
Antibiotics fight bacterial infections, like strep throat, and symptomatic bladder infections. They DON’T fight viruses—like common colds, flu, or most sore throats and sinus infections. Ask if you have a bacterial infection.
Misusing Antibiotics when they are not required, is one of the leading causes of Antibiotic Resistance, which is the ability of bacteria to resist to the action of an Antibiotic.
2. What are the risks?
Antibiotics can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and many more side effects. They can also lead to Antibiotic Resistance — if you use antibiotics when you don’t need them, they may not work when you do need them.
3. Are there simpler, safer options?
Sometimes all you need is rest and plenty of liquid. Instead of oral Antibiotics, which are more likely to have unwanted side effects, you can also ask about Antibiotic ointments and drops for eye and ear infections. For more details refer: American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery (February 2013), “Clinical practice guideline: Acute otitis externa”. Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery 134 (4): S4–23.
4. How much do they cost?
Antibiotics are usually not expensive. But if you take them when you don’t need them, they may not work for you in the future – and that may cost you a lot of time and money, in the form of stronger treatment – which might be more toxic and expensive – and possibly a hospital stay.
5. How do I safely take antibiotics?
If your doctor prescribes antibiotics, take them exactly as directed, even if you feel better. Always complete the course, as directed by your doctor, and do not take more doses, unless directed by your doctor.