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Ask Dr. Nandi: Many take antibiotics without prescription, endangering efficacy

Posted at 5:58 PM, Jul 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-24 17:58:01-04

(WXYZ) — A new study finds that many Americans are using antibiotics without a prescription. Some are buying from questionable places while others are taking leftovers saved from a prior prescription. And this can be very dangerous.

This may come as a surprise, but some people are getting antibiotics from flea markets and pet shops. While others are finding them online or getting them from friends or family members.

Now this is super concerning to me. I’m used to getting antibiotic requests from my patients for all kinds of ailments. But seeing patients at my office allows me to ask questions and evaluate their symptoms. And that’s when I can explain in detail why they may or may not need antibiotics.

Too many people believe that antibiotics fix everything. And that is not true. They only treat certain bacterial infections.

Getting antibiotics from anyone other than a healthcare professional opens the door to potentially questionable ingredients. And if you stockpile antibiotics for future use, which you should never do, time can lessen their potency so they may not work right.

Another concern is when folks use Dr. Google and self-diagnose as you could end up taking the wrong antibiotic. In order for it to work, you need the right drug for the right bug.

If the wrong antibiotic is taken, it can potentially make the infection worse. You could also have an allergic reaction or have a dangerous interaction as some antibiotics should not be taken with certain medicines.

The researchers who conducted the study found multiple reasons like lack of health insurance, the cost of the drug, or not being able to take time off work to see a doctor. They also found that some people feel that antibiotics are not a big deal.

But with antibiotic resistance, it is a huge deal.

We really need to look at the bigger picture. Not taking all of your prescribed medication can leave bacteria behind that can basically get stronger and might not be killed off next time. And resistant bacteria can be harder to treat and unfortunately, can spread to other people.

So it’s really important to see a doctor and take antibiotics as they are prescribed.