The AUN Health Center is committed to the health literacy development of the AUN Community. Hence, for the 2019 Fall Session, we will be issuing out useful tips to develop your 'Prescription-intelligence'.
Having observed the poor understanding of drug use among members of the community, we think it wise to present a series that will facilitate our understanding on the medical uses of some of the common classes of drugs we prescribe in the Health Center, their side/adverse effects, and their resistance factor.
In this light, we contextually coined the series with the title: "Drug Prescription-Intelligence" which sheds a broad light on what you need to know about each class of drugs. For a start, we would consider what you need to know about antibiotics.
What You Need to Know About Antibiotics
Antibiotics refer to a group of drugs used in treating bacterial infections because of their inherent ability to kill or inhibit the growth/reproduction of bacteria. Antibiotics achieve this through various mechanisms such as hindering the bacteria's cell wall synthesis, i.e. they severely attack the wall or coat that protects the bacteria. They can also prevent the synthesis or formation of the bacteria's protein; and also prevent the mechanism of the bacteria's reproduction such as by hindering its DNA and RNA synthesis.
Common examples of bacterial infections that require treatment with antibiotics include Typhoid fever, Urinary tract infection, Upper respiratory tract infection e.g. strep throat; Tuberculosis, pneumonia, ear or eye bacterial infection, etc. It is good to note that antibiotics specifically work against bacterial infections and as such will not be useful in treating infections caused by fungi or viruses such as common cold, cough or flu. Examples of common bacteria that cause infection include Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, Helicobacter pylori, Salmonella, Estrogen coli, etc.
General side effects:
Though our body responds to drug use differently, the common side effects of antibiotics include:
Nausea, vomiting, fatigue, diarrhea, constipation, and abdominal cramps.
Note that most side effects of taking antibiotics could occur mildly, but if they become severe, contact your health provider immediately.
Can Bacteria become resistant?
Yes! Bacteria can keep spreading even when a person is currently taking a course of antibiotics treatment. This because a bacterium can mutate and develop new pieces of DNA that make it resistant, and thus making ineffective the specific antibiotics that might have been potent against it. There are several causes why bacteria build resistance to antibiotics treatment. Some of the common causes include but is not limited to the following:
Over-use of an antibiotic.
Under-use of an antibiotic, i.e. taking less than the prescribed dose and duration
Use of antibiotics to treat viral infections such as flu, cough or cold.
Non-compliance to your prescribed antibiotics regimen, i.e. skipping your doses or not following your healthcare provider's prescription order.
Use of antibiotics without prescription or consultation with your health provider.
How to Prevent Resistance:
Consult your healthcare provider when you are ill; do not purchase OTC (Over-the-Counter) antibiotics without prescription.
Use your antibiotics according to your health provider's prescription (Complete the dose and duration of antibiotics)
Do not save or use leftover antibiotics; they may become ineffective in treating a new case of bacterial infection.
Do not share or use another person's prescribed antibiotics; they may not be effective in treating your infection.