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Self-Medication with Antibiotics Amid COVID-19: Dos & Don’ts

Due to the fear of the COVID-19 pandemic, the issue of self-medication for Covid and other infections has become a talking point, and doctors strongly warn against self-medication.

Popping antivirals like Remdesivir, steroids, and ANTIBIOTICS without consulting a doctor can lead to the severity of the disease and make you more susceptible to other infections.

More than 80% of people who test positive for Covid-19 may not require any medication. Only 10-15% of patients will require paracetamol besides close monitoring of the oxygen saturation level.

Self-medication with antibiotics is one of the major contributing factors to antimicrobial resistance, with individual’s knowledge about antibiotics, antibiotic usage practices, accessibility to antibiotic medication, and demographic characteristics.

What Can You Do?

Smart use of antibiotics is the best care. Here are some steps to protect yourself from harm caused by unnecessary antibiotic use and combat antibiotic resistance.

  1. Take antibiotics ONLY if you need them

Antibiotics ONLY treat certain infections caused by bacteria like strep throat, whooping cough, urinary tract infection (UTI).

Antibiotics DO NOT work on viruses, such as those that cause- colds and runny noses, most sore throats (except strep throat), flu, most cases of chest colds (bronchitis)

Antibiotics also ARE NOT needed for some common bacterial infections, including- many sinus infections and some ear infections

Taking antibiotics when they’re not needed won’t help you treat the infection, and their side effects can still cause harm and make you resistant.

Your doctor can decide the best treatment for you when you’re sick. 

  1. Never pressure your doctor to prescribe an antibiotic

  2. Take antibiotics exactly as prescribed

If your doctor prescribes an antibiotic when you’re sick-

  1. Take them exactly as prescribed

  2. Do not share your antibiotics with your family or others

  3. Do not save them for later (talk to your pharmacist about safely discarding leftover medicines)

  4. Do not take antibiotics prescribed for someone else. This may delay the best treatment for you, make you even sicker, and cause side effects.

Talk with your doctor if you develop any side effects or allergic reactions while taking an antibiotic.

Common side effects include-

  1. Rash, Nausea, Diarrhea, Yeast infections

More severe side effects include-

  1. Infections that cause diarrhoea that can lead to severe colon damage and death

  2. Severe and life-threatening allergic reactions

  3. Antibiotic-resistant infections

If you need antibiotics, the benefits usually outweigh the risks of side effects and antibiotic resistance.

  1. Ask your doctor about ways to feel better if an antibiotic isn’t needed.

Antibiotics aren’t always the answer when you’re sick. Ask your doctor for tips on how to feel better while your body fights off infection.

Steps to avoid getting yourself infected-

  1. Wash your hands regularly

  2. Wear a mask (cover your nose and mouth completely)

  3. Stay home when you’re sick

  4. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands

  5. Avoid close contact with people and maintain social distancing

  6. Get Vaccinated

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