Wednesday, June 19, 2024

How To Tell If You Need Antibiotics

The Test Cultures Come Back Positive

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The only way to definitely tell you to need antibiotics is to get a test culture. This is something your doctor will be able to carry out, with the majority of them happening while you wait. Without the test culture, your doctor is making an educated decision on whether the infection is likely viral, bacterial or infection.

If you want to make sure you have been treated for the right infection, ask for a culture test. Depending on where the infection is, this can be tricky. For example, a bacterial ear infection will usually mean perforating the eardrum to get some of the fluid, so it avoided unless absolutely necessary.

The most common tests are carried out when theres the consideration that the illness is in the throat or chest. Its much easier to collect the fluid, whether through the salvia in the mouth or through the phlegm that you bring up. If you have a stay in the hospital, other fluids are collected for testing to make sure you get the right treatment.

Cultures dont just help to test for bacterial infections, but will also tell the doctors the type of bacterial infection you have. These tests can also help doctors determine the best type of treatment for your wounds.

Antibiotics Are Not One

The antibiotics that work for a urinary tract infection arent the same as the ones that will fight strep throat. And the broad-spectrum antibiotics used to fight infections in hospitals arent the same as the very specific antibiotics your doctor may prescribe to treat a bacterial ear infection.

Heres why thats matters: If you take the wrong medication, it wont be effective.

On top of that, it may have unpleasant and unwanted side effects. In most cases, side effects of antibiotics are pretty benign. But, for example, taking those broad-spectrum antibiotics for an extended period of time can put you at risk for C. diff, a severe and hard-to-treat infection.

Ask Your Doctor Or Pharmacist About Ways To Feel Better If An Antibiotic Isnt Needed

For more information on common illnesses and how to feel better, visit Common Illnesses.

Antibiotics arent always the answer when youre sick. Sometimes, the best treatment when youre sick may be over-the-counter medication. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for tips on how to feel better while your body fights off an infection.

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Nasal Discharge: Cause Treatments And Prevention

What is nasal discharge?

Mucus isnt just a slimy material in your nose it actually has a useful purpose. It traps bacteria, other germs, and debris, and prevents them from entering your lungs.

In some cases, such as when you have a cold or allergies, mucus may flow out of your nose or down your throat. When mucus comes out of your nose, its called nasal discharge. It can also be called post-nasal drip or rhinorrhea.

Although its annoying, nasal discharge is common and usually goes away on its own. But in some cases, its a sign of an underlying health problem that might require medical attention.

There are many potential causes of nasal discharge. Some of the most common include infections and allergies.

What Are Resistant Bacteria

Could a Blood Test Determine If You Need Antibiotics?

Each time you take an antibiotic, bacteria are killed. Sometimes, bacteria causing infections are already resistant to prescribed antibiotics. Bacteria may also become resistant during treatment of an infection. Resistant bacteria do not respond to the antibiotics and continue to cause infection. A common misconception is that a person’s body becomes resistant to specific medicines. However, it is the bacteria, not people, that become resistant to the medicines.

Each time you take or give your child an antibiotic unnecessarily or improperly, you increase the chance of developing medicine-resistant bacteria. Therefore, it is critically important to take antibiotics only when necessary. Because of these resistant bacteria, some diseases that used to be easy to treat are now becoming nearly impossible to treat.

Bacteria can develop resistance to certain medicines:

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What To Know About Taking Antibiotics

Should your child require antibiotics for a bacterial infection, make sure they take them exactly as prescribed by the pediatrician. Finishing only some of the medication or skipping a dose because of a tummy ache can leave harmful bacteria in your child’s system , possibly leading to a recurrence of the infection. Also keep in mind that the weakest bacteria tend to be killed off first, leaving behind the stronger bugs that are more likely to be resistant, notes Anastasia Levitin, Ph.D., of the Keck Graduate Institute, in Claremont, California.

If you’re not sure why your doctor has prescribed an antibiotic, speak up. Ask whether it’s a broad-spectrum drug . If so, find out whether a narrow-spectrum one might be an equally effective treatment. Broad-spectrum antibiotics increase the odds of creating resistant bacteria by wiping out good bugs in the gut that help keep harmful ones in check.

How You Can Treat Viral Infections

Viruses cause infections such as colds, flu, COVID-19, chickenpox, measles and warts. Most of the time, theres no treatment available for viral infections. You can alleviate the symptoms and wait for it to pass. The best thing to do is to make sure to get good rest, hydration and nutrition, Dr. Price said. Fortunately, most viral infections are short-lived because our immune systems are good at fighting off this type of infection.

For a few different viral infections, treatments are available. You might benefit from medication if you come down with the flu or COVID-19, for example. Your medical provider can help decide if medicine is needed, Dr. Price said.

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Which Illnesses Need Antibiotics

In-room misters and over-the-counter remedies against pain, fever, cough and congestion can help relieve symptoms and allow your child to get a good nights sleep.

Are antibiotics ever the right solution to common childhood ailments? Of course. Its still important to see your doctor when your child is sick for longer than a few days, especially if symptoms are serious or worsening. Here is what your doctor considers when it comes to prescribing antibiotics:

Youre Blowing Green Or Yellow Snot

Are antibiotics needed for a sinus infection?

When your body is fighting an infection, some of the snot from your nose will change color. One of the signs of bacteria is having green or yellow snot. You can also have green or yellow phlegm when you a cough.

Viral infections usually lead to thin, clear secretions. You also wont usually have any phlegm come up. Youll want to discuss this symptom with your doctor.

However, there are times that green or yellow secretions can be a sign of a tough viral infection. Your doctor will still have to look at other symptoms, but the color is a good indication.

One of the ways to tell if the discolored snot and phlegm is bacterial is to look at the thickness. The viral discoloration will still usually be relatively thin. With a bacterial infection, the phlegm usually becomes much thicker and tougher. There may also be some blood when coughing, as the infection gets worse.

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What You Should Do

Dr. Sedaghat recommends that you treat colds symptomatically. I tell my patients do whatever makes them feel better. Pain relievers like acetaminophen and ibuprofen can help. Home remedies that can improve nasal symptoms include saltwater rinses for the nose, Dr. Sedaghat suggests. He also points out that maintaining a healthy diet and drinking plenty of fluids can help keep your energy levels up.

Sinus infections are treated the same way as a cold. If bacteria cause the infection, antibiotics are an option. But many bacterial sinus infections get better on their own.

Using The Drugs When You Don’t Need Them Poses Serious Risks

An April 2015 Consumer Reports survey of 1,000 adults found that doctors often prescribe antibiotics when the drugs aren’t necessary, such as for colds, the flu, and many sinus infections. Several major medical organizations, including the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Academy of Pediatrics, as part of a project called Choosing Wisely, have recently tried to correct the problem by identifying conditions for which antibiotics are often misused and explaining when the drugs are, and aren’t, needed:

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Missing A Dose Of Antibiotics

If you forget to take a dose of your antibiotics, take that dose as soon as you remember and then continue to take your course of antibiotics as normal.

But if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.

How To Tell The Difference And What To Do About It

Do you need antibiotics? A simple blood test could tell you in a few ...

Its no fun coping with the stuffy, dripping head congestion of a winter bug. But how do you know if youre fighting a common cold or a sinus infection? The symptoms can overlap, and it can be hard to tell the difference, says Dr. Ahmad Sedaghat, an otolaryngologist with Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.

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When Do I Actually Need Antibiotics For A Sinus Infection

There are several guidelines for determining if a patient actually needs antibiotics for a sinus infection. If you have thick, colorful nasal discharge and/or facial pain for at least 10 days, you meet the criteria. This does not mean if you have a slightly yellow or clear nasal discharge for 10 days having discharge from the nose for at least 4 weeks is normal in the case of sinus infections.

The second criterion is if your symptoms have improved but then got worse again, even if its been less than 10 days. This is referred to as double worsening and is a common scenario in bacterial infections. However, even then, you may want to follow what doctors suggest as watchful waiting. Wait 2 weeks and see if symptoms got better. Use over-the-counter medications and supportive care , as they often do the trick.

Take Antibiotics Exactly As Prescribed If You Need Them

Dispose of Unused Medicines

If your doctor decides an antibiotic is the best treatment when youre sick:

  • Take them exactly as your doctor tells you.
  • Do not share your antibiotics with others.
  • Do not save them for later. Talk to your pharmacist about safely discarding leftover medicines.
  • Do not take antibiotics prescribed for someone else. This may delay the best treatment for you, make you even sicker, or cause side effects.

Talk with your doctor and pharmacist if you have any questions about your antibiotics.

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When Do You Need An Antibiotic

Antibiotics come in several formsmost often pills, but also liquid, ointment, and IV formulasbut all have the same purpose. “Antibiotics are medications that specifically treat bacterial infections,” says Jennifer Cohn, M.D., assistant professor of clinical family medicine and community health at the University of Pennsylvania. “The goal of all antibiotics is to stop the spread of a certain bacteria that is causing an infection, and different kinds do this in different ways.” Common antibiotics include amoxicillin, Augmentin, and penicillin, which treat sinus infections, strep throat, and many other infections nitrofurantoin and sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim, more commonly known as Macrobid and Bactrim, prescribed for urinary tract infections and azithromycin, doxycycline, and metronidazole, which are popular for the treatment of sexually transmitted diseases.

When To Seek Medical Care

Antibiotic Awareness: Sore Throat or Pharyngitis

See a doctor if you have:

  • Severe symptoms, such as severe headache or facial pain.
  • Symptoms that get worse after initially improving.
  • Symptoms lasting more than 10 days without improvement.
  • Fever longer than 3-4 days.

You should also seek medical care if you have had multiple sinus infections in the past year.

This list is not all-inclusive. Please see a doctor for any symptom that is severe or concerning.

Other conditions can cause symptoms similar to a sinus infection, including:

  • Seasonal allergies

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Ways To Tell If You Need An Antibiotic

Doctors often use a combination of experience and science when deciding to prescribe an antibiotic. Here are five things most physicians consider before making that decision.

Many of us think antibiotics are a quick fix for a stuffy nose, cough, and sore throat, and as soon as we experience symptoms of cold, we plead our doctor to prescribe antibiotics. If he refuses, we give him a variety of alibis, such as It healed me completely the last time, I cant take any leaves from office, I have my brothers wedding coming up, and I have to recover by then completely. However, little do we understand that taking medicines unnecessarily can cause severe harm to the body. Also, overdose of antibiotics can also cause resistance in the body.

We dont understand why our doctor might not be willing to prescribe the pillswhile antibiotics are great killers of bacteria , they cant kill viruses. And most conditions like flu and other respiratory problems are caused by viruses. So, before using all your alibi power to convince your doctor or self-medicating yourself, know when the antibiotics work and when they dont.

The following are five ways to tell if you need an antibiotic.

How Long You’ve Been Sick

Viral infections that hang around for a while can sometimes morph into a bigger problem, such as a sinus infection, and bacteria may join the party. So if your symptoms have been lingering for weeks, your likelihood of getting an antibiotic goes up.

However, most of the time, long-standing symptoms are due to a virus, not bacteria, so its still not the best way to determine your need for antibiotics.

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Urinary Tract Infections In Older People

Antibiotics are useful in treating urinary tract infections . But sometimes older adults are treated for a UTI after a routine urine test reveals bacteriaeven if they’re not experiencing symptoms.

“It is not uncommon in older adults to find that bacteria are living in the bladder but not necessarily causing an infection,” Hicks says.

Consider antibiotics only when UTI symptoms, such as pain or burning during urination or a strong urge to go often, are present as well.

What Is A Bacterial Infection

An easy way to tell whether you might need antibiotics

A bacterial infection occurs when bacteria enter your body and begin to multiply.

Not all bacteria are bad. In fact, various species of bacteria begin to colonize our bodies shortly after were born. These bacteria are harmless and can offer us benefits sometimes, like helping with digestion.

Some types of bacteria, referred to as pathogenic bacteria, are harmful to us. When they infect us, they can cause disease.

Some of these infections can become serious, so be sure to see your doctor if you think you have a bacterial infection. For example, a minor skin infection may develop into cellulitis if left untreated.

Additionally, some infections can lead to a life-threatening condition called . Its an extreme response by your body to an infection.

Below, well explore some of the signs and symptoms of a bacterial infection in cuts, burns, and within the body.

Signs and symptoms of a bacterial infection may vary depending on the location of the infection and the type of bacteria thats causing it. However, some general symptoms of a bacterial infection include:

  • fever
  • nausea or vomiting

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When Antibiotics Can Help

When they’re used the right way, antibiotics can save lives. For example, they can treat bronchitis, pneumonia, strep throat, ear infection, and pinkeye — as long as they’re caused by bacteria.

Sometimes, you get infected with a bacteria after you’ve got a cold. Some signs of bacterial sinus infection are pain around your face and eyes that may get worse when you bend over. You might also cough up thick, yellow or green mucus.

These symptoms may also occur with a cold. But if they last for more than a week or are severe, you may have a bacterial infection and need antibiotics.

Only your doctor can prescribe antibiotics. Talk to them if you think you might need them.


How Do I Know If My Kid Needs Antibiotics

Research suggests that drug-resistant infections among children are on the rise. Heres how you can avoid overusing these medications.

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This story was originally published on Nov. 15, 2019 in NYT Parenting.

Your child has been stuffy and miserable for a week with a cough that wont quit, but your doctor said to let the illness run its course. Soon, you may begin to wonder whether anything more can be done. Does she need antibiotics? How long will this cough last?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 30 percent of antibiotic prescriptions are unnecessary, and children under 2 are one of the groups that receive the most antibiotic prescriptions. Overuse of these lifesaving drugs in children, adults and our food supply has led to antibiotic resistance, which the C.D.C. has called one of the most serious public health problems in the United States. More than 2.8 million Americans develop antibiotic-resistant infections each year, and more than 35,000 die as a result, the C.D.C. said in a report released on Wednesday.

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If I Have A Fever An Antibiotic Is Probably Needed Right

Viruses can cause a high fever, which is why this is a common symptom of the flu or mono. Unfortunately, these cant be treated by antibiotics.

Speaking of viruses, most illnesses with cough, congestion and runny nose are caused by viruses, meaning that antibiotics simply wont help in those cases either. There are some occasions where these conditions can be caused by bacteria, however, which makes diagnoses a little more tricky.

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