Antibiotics can help you feel better after some common illnesses by fighting the bacteria that cause these infections. Besides taking the prescribed dose, there are other, lesser-known things that can help you recover faster.
Infectious Disease researcher Ghinwa Dumyati, MD, and Emergency Medicine physician Bohdan Klymochko, DO, offer advice for your doctor’s next prescription.
How do antibiotics work?
Antibiotics are drugs that interfere with the normal function of bacteria in certain infections, such as strep throat, bacterial pneumonia, and urinary tract infections. Antibiotics may be available as pills, liquids, ointments, creams, or injectables.
Antibiotics do not work against viral infections. Using antibiotics to try to treat viruses, such as the common cold or flu, can be harmful. Doctors are particularly concerned that overuse of antibiotics may lead to the development of new, antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. It is important to always consult a health care professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
What should I do when starting a new antibiotic?
- Follow the prescription exactly, including taking it with or without food. Some foods can affect the body’s absorption of certain antibiotics, reducing their effectiveness.
- You may start to feel better after the first few doses but be sure to finish the full course as prescribed. If you don’t, the bacteria may not be completely eliminated from your system.
- Take it at the same time every day to maintain a consistent level in your body.
- See side effects, allergic reactions, and signs of yeast infection. Contact your health care provider if you experience any of these.
- Tell your health care provider about all medications, supplements, or herbal remedies you take. Some interactions with antibiotics can cause negative side effects or alter their effectiveness. For example, some birth control pills may be less effective when taken with certain antibiotics.
- Avoid alcohol, as it can interact negatively with some antibiotics.
- Do not store or share any antibiotic doses.
How soon do I feel better?
It varies, but symptoms may develop within 48 to 72 hours of starting the antibiotic. The body continues to respond and heal after a course of antibiotics. You may return to normal soon after stopping the medication, but it may take a while.
Should I change my toothbrush after starting antibiotics?
While some providers suggest getting a new toothbrush two or three days after starting antibiotics for strep throat, expert opinions are mixed. More studies are needed on this topic to prove if it is necessary.
How do antibiotics affect gut health?
Antibiotics can cause digestive issues because they can throw off the balance of good bacteria in your gut. This is another reason to only take antibiotics if prescribed by your provider. A healthy diet, including foods that contain probiotics, can help restore the good bacteria in your gut.
It is common to experience mild stomach upset while taking antibiotics, but if you experience symptoms of diarrhea, stomach pain, nausea, or fever, it is important to contact your health care provider. Some people experience a colon infection called It’s hardwhich can be serious.
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