Antibiotics: Fact or Fiction with Dr. Benjamin Chan

Antibiotics: Fact or Fiction with Dr. Benjamin Chan


– Once deemed a miracle drug, antibiotics are often
thought of as a cure-all for virtually any infectious disease. But, these days, there’s
a lot of confusion about what they are for, how they work, and when you should take them. I’m Dr. Benjamin Chan from Penn Medicine and if you want the
truth about antibiotics, you’ve come to the right place. (upbeat music) Myth number one, if you
take antibiotics too often, your body can become resistant to them. This one is fiction. (buzzer buzzing) People don’t become
resistant to antibiotics, but the bacteria responsible
for the infections do. The purpose of an antibiotic
is to kill bacteria, which have been around
for billions of years and learned how to survive
in hostile environments. As a result, they can develop a resistance to perceived threats, like antibiotics. In a bacterial infection,
billions of bacteria are present and antibiotics kill the majority of them, but some, that are inherently
resistant to the drug are left behind. The resistant bacteria will then be able to grow and multiply and antibiotics will
no longer be effective on that particular strand. This is why, misuse or
overuse of antibiotics can make them less
effective and can even lead to an increase in antibiotic
resistant diseases. There’s another factor that can effect how well antibiotics work and
it leads us to our next myth. Myth number 2, you can
stop taking antibiotics once you start feeling better. This is fiction and it’s the
single most important thing to remember when taking antibiotics. It’s absolutely critical that
you complete a full course of antibiotics, exactly as prescribed, even if your symptoms have improved. If you stop too early, you’re
not giving the drug a chance to get rid of the infection,
allowing the bacteria to grow back and potentially become resistant to that antibiotic. If you get sick again,
the same antibiotic may no longer work for you. Meaning, it will be much tougher for you to get back to good health. So, remember, always finish
the entire prescribed course of antibiotics, even if
you are feeling better. Myth number three, antibiotics
cannot cure the flu. This one is a fact. The flu is a type of
virus, and unfortunately, no antibiotic in the world
can fight against it. Since antibiotics are used to
treat bacterial infections, they won’t work against
viruses, like the common cold, flu, most sore throats, bronchitis, and many
sinus and ear infections. But, if you’re worried about
the flu, I have good news. You can substantially
decrease your chances of getting the flu by making sure you get a flu shot every year. We did a whole Fact or Fiction
episode about flu shots, so if you want to learn
more, check out that video. For more information
about when and how to use antibiotics, talk to your doctor. To learn more about Penn Primary Care, visit our website, and
stay healthy out there.

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