Many a time, people get antibiotics prescription from their doctor to treat a particular bacterial infection such as urinary tract infection or a sexually transmitted infection and initially start taking the drugs. However, once the symptoms that brought them to the hospital (burning sensation while urinating for urinary tract infection, or a whitish discharge from the penis for sexually transmitted infection) resolves, most people are tempted, and some even go on, to stop taking their medications. They feel there is no need to complete the medications as prescribed by the doctor.
But the truth is there is a medically backed reason why a doctor prescribes that ceftriaxone or amoxicillin to be taken for 3 weeks or more. Stopping your antibiotics for any bacterial infection halfway, even when all the symptoms seem to have resolved, is very bad in these two ways:
- Poorly Treated Infection
Failure to complete your prescribed antibiotics medications leaves room for many of the bacteria that caused the infection to survive. The surviving bacteria go on to become stronger and resistant to the antibiotics as they multiply. A few weeks or months later, these now super bacteria bring back the symptoms; and the terrible thing is a higher dose of the standard antibiotics taken religiously to completion will be ineffective at eradicating the bacteria. The consequence is the persistence of the infection and possibly the development of complications such as kidney failure in the case of urinary tract infection.
- Spread of Antibiotic-resistant Infection
Imagine a person with a sexually transmitted infection (STI) who did not complete their antibiotic prescription and now has drug-resistant bacteria having unprotected sex with a healthy individual. This spreads drug-resistant STI bacteria to a new host who will likely extend the chain of infection to other people. On the long term, this could lead to a public health emergency where there is an outbreak of a sexually transmitted infection whose causative bacterial organism is resistant to every known antibiotic medication, resulting in many complications and deaths.
When next a doctor prescribes any drugs, not just antibiotics, for any infection, be it malaria or typhoid, make sure you take the drugs as instructed and for the total duration (weeks or months). By complying with your prescription medications, you significantly reduce the chance of any future drug resistance in many disease-causing microorganisms.
For more advice and help, feel free to ask a Doctor via The Reliance Care App