12 Nov Antibiotics: 4 Things Every Senior Needs to Know
Antibiotics are necessary for the health and wellness of millions of people. From regulating blood pressure, managing pain, fighting bacterial infections, and preventing certain diseases, antibiotics can be really beneficial, in many cases–life saving. However, they can also be harmful if not used appropriately.
With Antibiotic Awareness Week this week, let’s dive into what antibiotics are, what they do, and how to use them properly.
1. What are Antibiotics?
Antibiotics are powerful medications that are used to fight certain infections. Also known as antibacterials, they fight to stop bacteria from reproducing, or destroy the bacteria altogether. Antibiotics cannot be used on viral infections, only bacterial.
As bacteria enters the body, your body’s first line of defense kicks in: your immune system. Your white blood cells attack the harmful bacteria to prevent it from spreading. Sometimes the bacteria is too much, though, and the immune system is unable to thwart them all off. This is when antibiotics come into play, and why they are so helpful– they help fight infections when your body can’t anymore.
2. History of Antibiotics
Before antibiotics, 30% of people who died, died from a bacterial infection. This led to the development of the first antibiotic: penicillin.
Penicillin was first developed in 1928 by Alexander Fleming— a professor of Bacteriology at St. Mary’s Hospital in London England. In the 1940s, the use of antibiotics became more widespread and people began living longer. They have since become paramount to modern day medicine.
Today, penicillin, and other penicillin-based antibiotics (like ampicillin, amoxicillin, and penicillin G) are still used to treat infections that have long been around.
Since the development of penicillin, over a hundred different antibiotics have been created, and countless lives have been saved. While most antibiotics are given by prescription from a doctor, some are sold over-the-counter (OTC) at a local pharmacy or drug store. Depending on the type of bacterial infection your body is fighting, your antibiotic may come in the form of a liquid, capsule, tablet, or as an ointment or cream.
3. Dangers of Antibiotics
With so many benefits from antibiotics, it’s hard to think of anything negative about them. Unfortunately, there’s always a downside to every positive thing:
Side effects: If you’ve ever taken an antibiotic (which, studies affirm that four out of 5 adults have taken one), you’re probably aware that they have some side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramps, fever, discoloration of your teeth, loss of appetite, photosensitivity. Other more serious side effects can include allergic reactions, cough, swelling, pain, trouble breathing, and seizures.
Antibiotic Resistance: Some people abuse antibiotics by misusing them, or overusing them. In addition, some doctors overprescribe antibiotics, or prescribe them for viral infections, which (as we learned earlier in this article), will only work against bacterial infections. This is dangerous because bacteria can become more resistant to antibiotics, making them less effective on your body. It’s becoming a worldwide problem.
4. Tips for Seniors Taking Antibiotics
Because seniors have weaker immune systems and have likely taken several antibiotics over the course of their lifetimes, it’s especially important for them to take caution when taking antibiotics. Here are some other tips:
Properly read all drug labels and follow instructions
It’s important to take them on time, according to their directions (time of day, or on a full stomach, etc), in the right dosages, to store them properly, and to complete the course of antibiotics. Stopping them too early can lead to resistance. If you have any questions, be sure to consult with your healthcare professional.
Because antibiotics can kill the good bacteria in your stomach, it’s advised to take a probiotic to replace any that is lost while taking the antibiotic. Yogurt is a good source of probiotics.
Good nutrition and exercise
Stay healthy by eating a well-balanced diet with whole grains and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Drink lots of water and get some exercise. Staying in good health will help you avoid risks of getting sick and requiring antibiotics.
Practice good hygiene
To avoid getting sick and necessitating the use of antibiotics, develop good habits of washing your hands regularly and staying away from those who are sick. Also, remember to stay up to date on your vaccinations, in particular your flu shot.
Antibiotics are powerful, life-saving medications to help those with serious infections, or help prevent serious infections from occurring. Take them wisely to ensure better health. Let Aegis help you today by calling 480-219-4790.