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I know it’s illegal but whenever I get antibiotics from the doctor I save a few and give them to friends or coworkers who don’t have insurance so that when cold season comes they might be able to shorten their illness

That is not good- that’s not quite how antibiotics work.

Antibiotics kill some bacteria, but don’t manage to kill other bacteria. Just like when you get a particular sickness (or a vaccination), your body can protect you from future infections, any bacteria that came into contact with the antibiotic is protected from future doses of that antibiotic. Bacteria are very virulent breeders, so they spawn more resistant bacteria.

If you take the full dose of antibiotics, your natural antibodies can deal with the cells that are resistant while the medicine kills off the bacteria that isn’t resistant. If you don’t take the full course of antibiotics, then your body has to deal with both the resistant and the non-resistant strains of bacteria, and it can become overwhelming. Also, most bacteria are able to pass on genes between still-living cells, so that previously non-resistant strains become resistant, and you have inadvertently cultivated a stronger strain of bacteria.

Furthermore, colds and the flu are viral infections, so antibiotics don’t work against them anyway. The best protection against viral infections are vaccinations, as there are not many viruses that we have developed anti-viral medication against, once you already have the disease. If there are anti-viral medications, it is even more important that you take the full dose of the medication, because anti-viral medication is even harsher against the body than antibacterial medication is.

How antibiotics work

How antiviral medication works

Spread this around; antibiotics are not candy

Yeah, not how it works at all. I get your intent there with health care access, but that’s literally worse than not taking any antibiotics for your friends, on pretty much every level.

Sharing is not caring when it comes to medication
It is risking the health of everyone involved

Doing this – not taking your full course of antibiotics, taking antibiotics for illnesses like the common cold that are immune to antibiotics – is why there are now super-resistant strains of bacteria with no known treatment. We’re basically back to the Middle Ages of watching the patient and hoping for the best.

I know this is an ill-heard sentiment on tumblr, but please, please, please do what your doctor tells you! I know there are a small percentage of doctors who are bad, but trust me, most of us are trying to help you and save your life.


When you don’t take your full antibiotic course, YOU HELP MAKE THOSE STRAINS.

And then they come to hospital, and I helplessly watch them die. So don’t do that.

Hence the free lecture* that comes with every course of antibiotics that I hand out.

* Part of the ever popular lecture series that includes: ‘don’t be an idiot’ and ‘you appear confused about the word “emergency”’.