Prescription Month Profile: When to Use Antibiotics

By Dr. Adam Alpers, D.O.


There is no question that some infections are frightening as well as dangerous. In many cases, people will look for chemical means to boost their immune system. In particular, they may mistakenly believe that it is safe to take antibiotics even when they do not have an infection. Unfortunately, this practice leads to all kinds of problems for the individuals, as well as society.


To begin, it is important to realize that bacteria come in different strains. Oddly enough, one strain of a bacteria may be resistant to antibiotics, while others are not. As a result, if you are trying to prevent an infection by using antibiotics, you would have to make sure that you know exactly which strain of bacteria you are dealing with. You will not be able to determine this to any degree of certainty prior to becoming infected.


Even though antibiotics save millions of lives each year, they can also be dangerous. When used too often, they can strip your intestines, and have other harmful side effects. This is one of the main reasons why you should never try to select antibiotics and dosing schedules for yourself. At the very least, your doctor will be able to make use of many guidelines and diagnostic tools to make sure that you get an antibiotic that is safe and effective for you.


You also need to give some thought to the larger picture when you are talking about antibiotics. It is important to realize that bacteria are just like any other living organism; they will evolve and adapt in order to survive. The more antibiotics are used for inappropriate reasons, the faster bacteria will evolve in order to survive.


Each time a doctor prescribes an antibiotic, he/she does so with the understanding that a number of processes will take place within your body. While some people believe that antibiotics can take the place of the immune system, it is simply not true. The only thing antibiotics can do is help kill off enough micro organisms in order to give your immune system a chance to fight off the rest on its own.


If you are thinking about taking antibiotics as a preventative treatment, you should talk to your doctor first in order to get the right information about how your body works, as well as how antibiotics work in relation to it.