Aging & Health: Take Charge

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Feb 18, 2020

Antibiotic use — stay smart

By Joey Keillor, @joeykeillor

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By improving antibiotic use, the goal is to improve health and safety outcomes on a broad scale. This process is known as antibiotic stewardship. Many of the steps needed to effectively manage antibiotic use are the responsibility of health care professionals and health care facilities.

You as a healthcare consumer play an important role. By being aware of the risks and limitations of antibiotics and practicing responsible antibiotic use, you can ensure the best outcome for you, your loved ones and others.

What can you do to practice safe antibiotic use? Here are a few key suggestions:

  • Talk to your doctor about when antibiotics will and won’t help.
  • Ask about antibiotic resistance.
  • Ask what side effects might occur.
  • Take antibiotics only when prescribed and exactly as prescribed.
  • Finish the entire course of the antibiotic. Don’t save for later use or share the drug with someone else.
  • Report any side effects from the antibiotic, especially severe diarrhea, as this may require immediate treatment.
  • Talk to your doctor about ways to relieve your symptoms in lieu of antibiotic treatment.
  • Don’t acquire antibiotics without a prescription. This includes online purchases and purchases made in foreign countries.
  • Stay healthy and keep others healthy by washing hands, covering coughs, staying home when sick, and getting recommended vaccinations.
  • Handle food safely, including cooking meats thoroughly and washing produce before eating.

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