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Antibiotics: when to take them and when to avoid them

April 12, 2018

They can be the best allies of our health when it is necessary to extinguish a bacterial infection and inhibit its spread. They are useless and potentially harmful in the presence of viral infections. Antibiotics and their use have precise rules dictated by Aifa, the Italian Medicines Agency. Let’s see how to use them together with Dr. Maria Fazio, head of the pharmacy at Humanitas.


How to use them?


The first rule is the most important one: antibiotics should only be used on prescription to treat infections caused by bacteria and not viruses.

Antibiotic therapy may not be interrupted or discontinued at the patient’s discretion or when symptoms have disappeared. It is very important, in order to avoid relapses, complications or resistance to bacteria that you want to eradicate, to complete the therapy as prescribed by a doctor. Early termination of treatment kills only the weakest bacteria and leaves the strongest.


If you do not want to risk ineffective therapy, you should strictly follow the dosage prescribed by your doctor and do not forget or skip any administration.

Punctuality is important. Taking the medication at the same time or, if you have to take more than one tablet per day, observing an 8-, 12- or 24-hour time scan is an important part of the success of the therapy.

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When should we use them?


Each antibiotic has a spectrum of action consisting of those bacteria that react positively to the drug. A broad spectrum corresponds to an action that extends to most gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, rickettsias, clamoias, spirochaetes and protozoa.


There are antibiotics suitable for treating diseases caused by more than 200 species of pathogenic bacteria, but their use is also recommended as a preventive measure by dentists and surgeons in cases of surgery to avoid post-operative complications. Their intake is possible during pregnancy, but only under strict medical supervision.


This type of drug, often prescribed orally, usually provides a cure of not less than five days, although the latest generation can be effective in just three days.

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