The Pros and Cons of Using Antibiotics

Antibiotics can help you, but they also can cause harm in some cases. People often get antibiotics for the following health issues:

  • Bladder infections
  • Sinus infections
  • Eczema (itchy, red rashes)
  • Colds and runny noses
  • Wounds or torn skin from surgery

However, antibiotics do not work for infections caused by viruses, like the common cold. That is why you should talk to your healthcare provider to make sure you only use antibiotics for the right reasons — and at the right time.

Before you take antibiotics, ask if you really need them. Also, ask about the risks and benefits of antibiotics.

While antibiotics can prevent and treat some infections, they can cause the following risks:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Allergic reactions, such as blisters, rashes, and face or throat swelling
  • Damage to nerves and tendons
  • Vaginal infections

It is important to remember that if you do take antibiotics, make sure to take the full amount you were prescribed.

However, if you use antibiotics too much or when you do not need them, they may not work for you someday. This is called “antibiotic resistance.”

Consumer Reports suggests the following ways to use fewer antibiotics and lower your risks of infections:

  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Get your vaccines and flu shots.
  • Ask if you can wait a few days before starting antibiotics. Then, call or visit your healthcare provider again to see if you really do need them.
  • If you are in the hospital, make sure everyone washes their hands when they come to see you.

 5 Questions to Consider Before Taking Antibiotics:

  1. Do I really need antibiotics?
  2. What are the risks and side effects?
  3. Are there simpler, safer options?
  4. How much do they cost?
  5. How do I take antibiotics so they’re safe and effective?

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