Guide to Using Antibiotics

  • Jan 04, 2016
  • Wellbeing

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Freedom Health Insurance has created a list of dos and don'ts for patients to help to reduce the emergence and spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.


  • Always complete the prescribed course of antibiotics - even if you feel better. Stopping a course halfway, can mean that you don’t get fully rid of the infection – this means it may come back and also increases the chance of creating resistant bacteria.


  • Never share your antibiotics with anyone else because they are prescribed for you only.


  • Think about whether you really need antibiotics. Talk to your GP about whether they think antibiotics are best for you – rather than demanding them.


  • Infections have two causes - Remember that antibiotics are only effective against bacterial infections – but can not help you recover from infections caused by viruses, such as common colds or flu.


  • Believe the label – Always take your antibiotics according to the instructions. This means following the guidelines and taking your antibiotic at regularly spaced intervals and adhering to the 'with food' or 'empty stomach' recommendations.


  • Immediately close people – can also be exposed - not only to your infection, but also any resist bugs. Take sensible precautions to avoid spreading germs such as covering your mouth when you cough,  washing your hands regularly (especially before preparing food), and avoiding contact with vulnerable people such as the elderly, pregnant women and young children.


  • Only use antibiotics for yourself – never give or share them to anyone else.


  • Travel carefully – be careful when travelling to help to reduce your chances of bringing home an infection. Always use condoms during sex and avoid travel in areas where outbreaks of bacterial diseases are common.


  • Investigate where your meat comes from. If possible try to buy meat from places that do not use routine antibiotics during the rearing of the animals. According to the Soil Association 'nearly 50% of all antibiotics are used in farming, primarily in intensive livestock production to compensate for crowded and unnatural conditions on factory farms.' Buying organic meat is one way to help reduce the amount of unnecessary antibiotics used in farming.


  • Consult your healthcare professional if you think you have an infection. Never ‘self prescribe’ yourself antibiotics by using those leftover from another course, using someone else's, or using a stash that you may have bought overseas. Each infection should always be treated under the supervision of a healthcare professional to ensure that you have the right antibiotics.