Antibiotic resistance is on the rise and is a Global Health Hazard.

There is a tendency on the part of patients to start an antibiotic as self-medication or on the recommendation of a chemist or a friend or some family member. There is also the wrong tendency to pick out an old prescription and have it filled out for a new medical problem with the assumption that it is the same illness. These are dangerous practices, dangerous for the patient as well as for the community.

Indiscriminate antibiotic usage is leading to multiple health problems in the community, the terrible effects of which will be felt as the medical fraternity runs out of new molecules to treat infections.

Important facts about an Antibiotic:

Keep the following points in mind before you take an antibiotic:

1. An Antibiotic works only against a Bacterial Infection - and only against the bacteria which are susceptible to that antibiotic. There is no 'one size fits all' as far as antibiotics go. Each molecule works to destroy a particular set of germs.

2. Most colds/ viral fevers do not need antibiotics since there is no role for them.

3. There is no concept of a "Mild" antibiotic - every Bacterial Infection requires an appropriate or specific antibiotic best suited to treat that infection.

4. There is no concept of 'give me a low dose' - every antibiotic is given according to your body weight as it works optimally at that dose. A low dose will lead to a build-up of antibiotic resistance.

5. Please finish the course once you begin. Do not stop just because you are feeling better. 

6. Apart from promoting antibiotic resistance, an antibiotic started indiscriminately can cause serious and sometimes life-threatening side effects. And since you started the antibiotic without a valid prescription, you may find it more difficult to get appropriate help.

Some Don'ts regarding Antibiotic use:

Do not start an antibiotic because of the following reasons: 

- The fever was very high; most viral infections can cause very high fever

- There was too much pain; presence of pain is not an indicator of a serious bacterial infection

- I have to travel out of the country

- I have an important meeting; I need to get well before that

and such other reasons. These are just bad arguments and have no basis in logic.

Please do not pressurize your doctor into prescribing an unnecessary antibiotic. On the contrary, become an agent of change and question every prescription that carries an antibiotic and asks the question -  is it really necessary?