Antibiotics only should be used when prescribed by your doctor. Consult with your doctor before taking any other medications (including over-the-counter medications). You should never take antibiotics given to you by someone else or prescribed for a previous illness. Below are three basic guides to help ensure that your antibiotic treatment will be effective:
Always take the prescribed dosage. The dosage is a very important factor in antibiotic effectiveness. If the dosage of the antibiotic is not adequate, it will not be effective for treatment of the infection and bacteria are more likely to develop resistance. This is because the bacteria can continue to grow and develop ways to disrupt the antibiotic's effects.
Antibiotics must be taken for the full amount of time prescribed by your doctor. Many times, patients will stop the use of an antibiotic when they begin to feel better and it seems that the illness has gone. However, even after the symptoms are gone, the bacteria may still be present in small amounts and an infection can return if use of the antibiotic is stopped. Not completing the prescribed dose also may promote resistance.
Antibiotics should not be saved and reused. You should always take the full course of antibiotic treatment, so none of the drug should be "left over." However, if this has occurred the antibiotics should not be taken to treat any other illness. Different types of infections require different types of antibiotics, so taking leftover medications is often not effective. In addition, there would only be a partial prescription left, and not taking a full course of treatment can cause the problems listed above.