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Making smart health choices: antibiotics edition

Make smart choices with antibiotics.
Antibiotics can be very helpful, but only if you actually NEED them. Photo supplied.

Taking antibiotics can be a pain – it can be tough to remember to take them on time, and they can irritate our stomachs. But antibiotics also have an important role to play in treating certain illnesses. To make sure they’re effective when you really need them, follow these simple tips:

Report any side effects. Sometimes side effects are a necessary evil, but you don’t always have to put up with them. Talk to your pharmacist or doctor about any rashes, nausea or other uncomfortable symptoms to see if they can suggest tips for managing the problem or prescribe a different medication.

Keep an eye on what you eat. Different antibiotics have different instructions for food – some work best on an empty stomach, while others are better taken with food. You may need to avoid grapefruit, alcohol or other food and drink. To make sure your prescription works the way it’s supposed to, follow the recommended guidelines, usually found on the prescription label, around eating and drinking. If you are not sure, ask your pharmacist.

Take exactly as prescribed. A growing problem is antibiotic resistance, which happens when bacteria adapt and make antibiotics less effective, or not effective at all. This means the drugs your doctor prescribes can’t properly treat infections. To help prevent this, it’s important to only take medication that’s prescribed to you and not share it with anyone else.

Make smart choices for the whole family. Remember to follow these tips for everyone in your household, including your kids and older adults that need your help with prescriptions. And don’t forget your pets, as they are vulnerable to antibiotic resistance too. The best way you can help keep everyone healthy is by preventing illness altogether.