Antibiotics without a prescription are dangerous

Researchers warn of the dangers of taking antibiotics without a prescription.

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Sometimes, these antibiotics can be left over from an earlier prescription. Other antibiotics can be purchased online or at other locations.

  • Experts warn that taking antibiotics without consulting a doctor can make an infection more severe.
  • It may also be a contributing factor to the increasing number of superbugs that are resistant to medication.

Do you call your doctor or drive to urgent care if you feel sick?

You can also reach into your medicine cupboard for any leftover medication, or go online to find the best online pharmacy.

You’re not the only one who feels this way.

Americans tend to hoard extra medication, either to save money or to order them online, to save money on trips to the doctor.

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However, it is risky to take antibiotics without a prescription.

This is not only dangerous for those taking the medication, but also encourages the growth of superbugs that are resistant to antibiotics.

A new study published in Annals of Internal Medicine examines why people take nonprescription antibiotics and save some of their prescriptions.

The numbers

You won’t be able to get a prescription antibiotic if you visit a doctor or a clinic.

According to Baylor College of Medicine researchers, only 1% of those who were studied in the most recent analysis were likely do so.

Other studies also found that people who keep antibiotics in their homes for future use comprised between 14 and 48 percent of the population.

Researchers released a press release saying that nonprescription antibiotic use was a problem of public health in America. To reduce this dangerous practice, it is important to have a better understanding of the risk factors and intervention pathways.

Supercharging superbugs

Unprescribed antibiotics can lead to the most serious danger: the rapid development of antibiotic-resistant superbugs, which could reduce the ability of treating benign infections.

“Leftover antibiotics shouldn’t exist in the first place,” Dr. Alexis Halpern, an emergency medicine physician at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, told Healthline. Every prescribed antibiotic should be taken as a whole. If not, the bacteria being treated could become resistant to it.”

She said, “Think about it as if you are killing something with poison. But it isn’t yet.” It can become stronger and may not be killed the next time it is exposed to that antibiotic or poison. This is how resistance develops.

This resistance comes at a high price.

“In 2013, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that each year, 2 million infections caused by antimicrobial-resistant pathogens occur in the United States, resulting in 23,000 deaths,” said Dr. Ayo Moses, a family physician with CareMount Medical in New York.

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There are also personal costs.

You might be unsure if you are taking the correct antibiotic for your particular condition without a prescription.

It is possible to be taking antibiotics even if you don’t have an infection. These are not treatable with antibiotics.

Christopher Hanifin (chair of the Department of Physician Assistant) said that antibiotics can have a variety of side effects. He is also assistant professor at Seton Hall University, New Jersey.

Healthline reported that these can lead to serious allergic reactions or other infections. Antibiotics can also kill beneficial bacteria.

“A provider will give you a prescription and have talked with you about this possibility. You can also call them if you have any questions. He said that if you have leftover antibiotics, it is possible you could be on your own.

Ineffective antibiotics

You might need to store antibiotics in case they don’t work. Hanifin stated that a stockpile of unutilized antibiotics can quickly lose their potency. This is particularly true for liquid antibiotics that are given to children. They must be kept refrigerated and taken immediately. Antibiotic tablets can quickly become brittle if they are kept in hot and humid bathrooms.

Similar problems exist with online and gray market antibiotics. You can’t know if the product you’re buying contains all of the ingredients that it claims.

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Dr. J.D. said that “Gray market antibiotics can be expired, less effective and unregulated, use nonstandard dosing or aren’t made for human use — all which further drives antibiotic resistant.” Zipkin is the GoHealth Urgent Care associate medical director and a board-certified pediatrician.