February 28, 2024

Safe Use of Antibiotics in Richmond, KY

Image of Annette Williams, APRN

Annette Williams, APRN:

Antibiotics are lifesaving medications that have been around since the early 1900s. We use them to treat bacterial infections, but they're not without risks. Risks include allergic reactions, subsequent secondary infections like C. difficile and emerging antibiotic resistance. Antibiotics should be avoided in viral infections because they do not treat viruses. Viruses are typically seen in common colds, RSV, flu. So we would want to treat those supportively or with antivirals and try to avoid antibiotic therapy if possible. Risks of overuse of antibiotics can be antibiotic resistance, so meaning if you do end up with a severe infection, it might not treat that infection, and we are actually seeing antibiotic resistant infections emerging and are having to create new, stronger antibiotics, which again come with risks.

You may be familiar with antibiotics being 10 days, but most recent research shows that we can do shorter courses of antibiotics, which lessens risks. Simple infections like urinary tract infections, can be treated for three to five days with antibiotics. Even pneumonia can be treated for five to seven days versus the 10 course that we're used to. Antibiotics are lifesaving, but they're not always indicated. So having a conversation with your provider and trusting their clinical expertise on whether antibiotics are appropriate for your present illness.

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