Be warned, don’t consume antibiotics without proper medical advice and expert opinion. And certainly not in excessive amounts. Else, you would wouldn’t be able to eliminate the disease for which you are taking medicine. No doubt antibiotics are crucial in tackling a disease, but it would be difficult to assess their role in combating the disease if you take them in excess. Antibiotics have to be taken in the right quantities.
What would happen if you consumed antibiotics in excess? You would develop resistance to antibiotics, which means the bacteria responsible for your disease would no longer be destroyed, which otherwise would be the case. So, if you want to get well, just ensure that you take antibiotics in the right quantities as prescribed by your doctor. Else, it will destroy your resistance and not the harmful bacteria!
Then there is the possibility of the antibiotics killing not only harmful bacteria, but all the good ones too. This can give rise to infections and put your body at great risk. This is the major reason why you need to consult a medical expert. Self-medication is not only not right, but risky and dangerous, because you wouldn’t know how much to take at different times of the day.
Why people go in for self-medication is because they see some initial benefits of antibiotics. After experiencing the benefits, they would begin to think of consuming antibiotics in larger number. This leap should not be taken up by the patients themselves, but on the advice of an expert, who will recommend the right quantity based on assessment of the health condition of the patient concerned.
Doctors are in a position to determine whether your ill-health is the result of bacteria or a viral infection. The doctor will conduct many tests to determine the nature of bacteria behind an infection. Based on the results, the right kind of antibiotics will be prescribed. There has to be a right correlation between the infection detected and the medicine prescribed, which can be assessed only by a medical expert.
People make mistakes not only by self-medicating, but also in not completing the course prescribed by the doctor. You should not take excessive quantities of antibiotics, but you should also not take too little, which would not have any effect on the harmful bacteria. This can cause harm to the body.
It is possible you may think that you are cured after taking a few antibiotics, but you wouldn’t know that you are harming yourself by not taking the course prescribed. This is because the bacteria causing the infection may not have been completely eradicated. This could lead to a relapse of the illness or ailment, which happens when you stop taking antibiotics.
A fine balance will have to be struck between excessive and lower dosages of the medicine. A doctor’s prescription and advice alone will help you tackle infection and experience the right balance in medication.
The other consequence of not taking the right dosage is that the medicine may not work the next time you may have to take it to tackle an infection. Excessive consumption will create resistance to bacterial infection, while lower consumption will not eradicate the infection. So the right quantity has to be consumed and who else better than a doctor to tell you how you should go about your medication.
How to avoid antibiotics?
Tell your doctor: In case you don’t feel good about antibiotics, you should tell your doctor straightaway and avoid a prescription.
Ask your doctor: If your assessment is that you don’t need antibiotics, then ask the doctor whether it is absolutely necessary. Be clear in your talk with the doctor on reasons why you think antibiotics may not be necessary. Ask the doctor to assess the ailment.
Self-awareness: It is crucial to know what are the situations that lead one to take antibiotics and avoid those situations.
Adequate rest: In case you have an ailment, doctors prescribe you to take adequate rest and not take up undue tasks which may intensify the ailment.
Diet change: Try a diet change to avoid antibiotics. Organic food may be one way of reducing chemical intake and avoiding the use of antibiotics.
Dr. Ramya V Raghavan (Consultant - Internal Medicine)
Columbia Asia Hospital, Whitefield