Shorter Courses of Certain Antibiotics May be Better for You

Shorter Courses of Certain Antibiotics May be Better for You


Using antibiotics less often or for
shorter courses has two main benefits. Number one, for the patient, you avoid
side effects and you avoid other complications that can come along with
antibiotics, which are strong drugs. Number two,
we reduce antibiotic resistance, which means that antibiotics, as a tool, will be
available to us for many, many more years, when they’re really needed. Antibiotics
work best for infections due to bacteria. These are things such as otitis media
and urinary tract infection. Antibiotics don’t work for things like the common
cold or other respiratory viruses.
Traditionally, we’ve given courses of roughly 10 to 14 days for virtually all
infections, but now we know that courses as short as 3, 5 or 7 days, depending on
the situation, can be just as effective and are likely safer. Patients want to
walk out of the clinic feeling better or knowing that they’re going to get better
and it’s been an expectation, I think in the past, that patients receive
antibiotics or a pill. I think it’s also the path of least resistance sometimes
for physicians. I prescribe over-the-counter medication frequently
for minor conditions such as colds, minor aches and pains, cough and other minor
ailments like that. Over-the-counter medications treat the symptoms of the
illness and if it’s not a condition that’s going to be helped by an
antibiotic, over-the-counter medications may be more effective.

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