While antibiotics are one of the greatest medical discoveries, misuse and overuse of these drugs have threatened their efficacy. Antibiotic resistance has now become one of the most pressing health problems, as the bacteria that were once highly responsive to the drugs have now become more and more resistant to antibiotics.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 30% (or 47 million prescriptions) of antibiotics are prescribed unnecessarily in doctors’ offices and emergency departments in the country. A part of the problem can be attributed to the myths or misconceptions regarding how patients use or take the said drugs.

Family physicians in South Jordan share some of the antibiotic myths you need to stop believing, as well as the way we misuse the drug.

It’s okay to take someone else’s leftover antibiotics.

Unless your doctor prescribed it, you should never take antibiotics or someone else’s leftover medication. The same is also true for taking previous prescriptions of the said drug for a new illness. Keep in mind that not all bacteria are highly responsive to antibiotics and you could end up getting sicker if you decide to take the drugs or self-medicate.

I can stop taking my prescription when I feel better.

Even if you feel better or have stopped experiencing symptoms, you still need to take your antibiotic prescriptions as directed. Stopping your medication to soon may not completely kill the bacteria and make you sick again. All the bacteria that have survived can also mutate and develop resistance to drugs, which only means that antibiotics may not work for you in the future.

Antibiotics can fight cold or flu.

Although antibiotics can help fight bacterial infections, they are useless against viruses like cold, flu, and sore throat. Your doctor may only prescribe the drug if you have flu or cold and then develop secondary infections like pneumonia. Taking antibiotics when you don’t need it can only make your illness last longer and cause other health concerns like rashes, nausea, and diarrhea.

The more drugs or antibiotics I take, the more effective they become.

Taking an antibiotic when you don’t need it only increases the risk of resistance.  This can be dangerous as next time you really need the drug to kill a bacterial infection, it may not work for you anymore. You could also experience a number of unwanted side effects such as vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, rashes, and others.

I should take antibiotics to prevent infections.

Even though antibiotics can kill bacteria and can treat bacterial infections, it is never advisable to take them when you don’t have an infection. The same is also true for taking antibiotics when you are feeling okay or aren’t sick. Keep mind that they can lead to other illnesses and unwanted side effects if you take them when you don’t have to.

Resistance can only happen if I take antibiotics daily.

woman taking an antibiotic

While is true that misuse increases your risk of antibiotic resistance, it can still occur whenever you take the drug. More resistance can occur with excessive use, but this does not mean that a single course of antibiotics won’t do any harm. Plus, it has been mentioned repeatedly that taking them when you don’t need them can have serious repercussions.

Don’t just reach for an antibiotic if you’re not feeling okay. It is best to see a family physician for proper and effective treatment.