Antibiotics have saved a lot of lives. They are a useful invention that can offer serious health benefits when required. But they are not required often, and taking them without a prescription can harm your health and well-being.
A review of 31 studies, recently published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that many Americans that take antibiotics do so without a prescription. How do they get them? Some people save ones they don’t use—they get them from friends or family, purchase them online, or get them from pet stores.
Antibiotics are not like over-the-counter pain or cold medications. They can’t be used to treat a headache, cough, or runny nose. Rather, this medication is an antimicrobial substance that is used to wipe out bacterial infections. They are useless for viruses or common illness. When you take an antibiotic, you’re essentially carpet-bombing your microbiome. Regular use can diminish healthy gut bacteria and end up making you more susceptible to future illness. It can also lead to drug resistance.
Moreover, a person needs to complete a prescribed cycle for antibiotics to work. Saving them for later just because symptoms have disappeared doesn’t mean your infection has been killed; it may remain dormant and put you and your loved ones at risk at a later date. If you’re prescribed antibiotics, it is essential to follow to the protocol.
More recently, researchers have been stressing the importance of limiting exposure to antibiotics and telling doctors to prescribe them only when necessary. Too many cycles can cause damage to the microbiome that can also cause health risks that may be irreversible. When used in moderation, however, they are likely safe.
One thing you can do to limit illness is find natural ways to boost your immune system. You can do this by:
- Staying hydrated (adding sage, ginger, lemon, licorice root, and turmeric to tea)
- Eating a healthy diet rich in fruit, vegetables, proteins, and healthy fats (will include all the vitamins and minerals you need, plus antioxidants and anti-bacterial compounds to boost immunity and limit inflammation)
- Regular exercise
- Good sleep
- Intermittent fasting