Are Antibiotics Harmful or Helpful?: January 12, 2019

When you don’t feel well, your doctor may prescribe you a long list of medications or an antibiotic, but other times patients may only receive a prescription for rest and fluids.  “That can be one of the most difficult things because you go to the doctor’s office and you want something in return. But honestly, a lot of times it’s better for some tender loving care and some chicken noodle soup than an antibiotic,” explained Mary Lynn Skruck, a pharmacist with Lee Health.

With bacterial infections like pneumonia, urinary tract infections, or strep throat, doctors may prescribe an antibiotic to kill the infection.  “If you get an antibiotic for ten days, you might start to feel better on day four, but that does not mean that the infection is gone. You need to finish your full course of antibiotics. There have been studies that have shown that that particular duration is what is shown to completely eradicate infections,” said Skruck.

But for viral infections, patients do not need an antibiotic. Instead, doctors treat the patient’s individual symptoms.  “If you truly don’t need an antibiotic what happens is you’ll take the antibiotic, and your body will get used to it, and any bacteria you may have, it may become resistant to it. It’s exposed to something that it doesn’t need to be, and in the future, it may not work if you have a real infection,” she said.

To ensure patients get the right medication, health experts work closely with pharmacists.  “Pharmacists work to optimize patient outcomes through interdisciplinary medication management, so we work with physicians, advanced providers, and nurses and patients as well to make sure that we all have the right understanding and patients get exactly what they need,” said Skruck.

A team effort to find the best treatment to give the patient the best outcome.