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Antibiotics: Misuse & Consequences

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Antibiotics: Misuse & Consequences

Since the day Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin in 1928, antibiotics have been crucial in medical treatments. Many fatal diseases are curable today; thanks to the wide varieties and large amounts of antibiotics that our pharmaceutical companies produce today. These miracle drugs have added years to the life expectancy of humans.

However, sadly, some of us have found many ways to misuse these antibiotics. These abuses are some rooted in ignorance and some in carelessness.

Today, let’s read on how antibiotics are misused and how they can impact your health adversely.

What Are Antibiotics?

What Are Antibiotics?

An antibiotic is a type of medicine which kills or stops/prevents the growth of disease-causing micro-germs in our body. These medicines are made of beneficial bacteria or fungi. However, in recent medical practices, synthetic, lab-made antibiotics are also used which are equally effective.

Antibiotics largely aim at tackling health issues caused by bacteria. But some antibiotics are also produced to fight against fungal or protozoan disease.

How Are Antibiotics Misused?

Misuse of antibiotics is one of the major cases which visit the emergency wards of hospitals daily. Children under the age of 18 years are the worst victims of antibiotics misuse.

Let’s see how antibiotics are misused.

Misuse In Viral Infection

Many people mistakenly take antibiotics when they have a viral disease. But as mentioned earlier, antibiotics work only on bacterial diseases like tuberculosis, cholera etc. It does not work on viral diseases like viral fever, common cold, hepatitis, dengue, etc.

Again, there are certain diseases like respiratory illness, conjunctivitis etc which can be either bacterial or viral. In those cases, diagnostic tests should be performed before using antibiotics.

Use Of A Wrong Antibiotic

Different antibiotics work on different bacterial infections. So, the antibiotic that cures a respiratory disease, may not cure a wound infection. It is necessary to know what kind of infection you are suffering from before some antibiotic is prescribed to you.

Antibiotics also come in different forms like tablets, IV liquid, cream or gel. And these different forms work differently in your body. Using a type randomly is nothing but a misuse.

Self-prescribed Antibiotics

Many patients avoid going to the doctor. Some people try to spare an expenditure, some fail to manage time, and some just don’t feel the need to do so. In any way, they buy some antibiotics of their choice to treat their condition. This practice can be very dangerous to health. Antibiotics should only be taken as prescribed by an authorised physician.

Misuse Of Antibiotics

Use Of And Old Prescription

Using an old prescription or using someone else’s prescription is just as bad as using no prescription at all. This practice is a common form of antibiotic abuse.


Some people tend to take more doses of an antibiotic because they ‘feel like’ they need more. Some people stop taking antibiotics when ‘they think’ that their disease is cured. This is a serious issue. Both overuse and underuse of antibiotics are harmful to health.

Not Adhering To The Prescribed Dose

You should be very careful when you are taking a course of antibiotics. Do not miss your doses and take them timely. When you don’t follow the regimen, antibiotics often do not work and sometimes make things even worse.


Statistics show that a lot of antibiotics are discarded from household shelves. Many have a tendency to over-stock antibiotics in their first aid box which stay unused and expire over time and later discarded.

How Does Overuse Of Antibiotics Affect Your Health?

Antibiotic Resistance

Just like we adapt to our environment, bacteria do so too. So, over a prolonged or excess use of antibiotics, the bacteria learn to fight the antibiotics. Hence, the effect of the antibiotics decreases. This phenomenon is called antibiotics resistance. Treating bacterial infection becomes difficult if you become too resistant to antibiotics.

Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotic resistance is also a challenging issue for medical scientists. They have to find and formulate newer and more effective antibiotics constantly.

Placebo Dependency

Antibiotic addiction has also become a known condition in some people who overuse antibiotics. Even some doctors prescribe antibiotic unnecessarily just because the patient expects some antibiotics and tend to heal faster this way. This false belief on antibiotics is called placebo antibiotic dependency.

Abuse of antibiotics has become so common in today’s world that the WHO has started a World Antibiotic Awareness Week where medical institutes and awareness camps talk about on the issue for a week in November. Stay away from misuse of antibiotics and, thus, its consequences.

About Sunshine Hospitals:

A Multi Super Speciality Institution, 500 bedded Sunshine Hospitals (Paradise Circle, Secunderabad) is promoted by globally reputed Joint Replacement Surgeon Dr. AV Gurava Reddy (Orthopedic Doctor) and like-minded associates who share the objective of making world-standard healthcare available, affordable and accessible to the common man. Sunshine has now become one of the best hospitals for many treatments including Orthopedic, Gastroenterology, Cardiology, Trauma and Neurology.

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