Antibiotics Revisited

March 15, 2012
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Several months ago we discussed on this blog the proper use of antibiotics for infections in the foot and leg. I wanted to revisit that subject somewhat by talking about three important points your doctor considers when deciding to give or not to give an antibiotic to you.

1. Antibiotics have not been shown to be beneficial for non-infected wounds.

The signs of infection are pain, swelling, redness, and warmth. If no signs or only one sign is present, the wound is probably not infected. In this scenario, neither oral or topical antibiotics have not been shown to help heal the wound. It has been thought that it would be good to preemptively treat the wound with antibiotics to ward off infection. However, this increases the chance of antibiotic resistant bacteria infecting the wound.

2. Mis-using antibiotics will decrease their effectiveness and increase their price

When antibiotics are used when no infection is present, the bacteria are given the opportunity to develop resistance to that antibiotic. Over time, as more and more bacteria develop resistance, a previously effective antibiotic may become useless. This will decrease the number of available effective antibiotics, thus driving up their price. New antibiotics take years to develop and will be slow to replace the ineffective ones.

3. When given antibiotics, make sure to take the entire dosage even if the infection is gone.
Even when the infection looks to be resolved, it is important to finish off the entire course of antibiotics your doctor has given you. They are dosed in a fashion to kill all harmful bacteria. If you stop taking them once things to be getter better, it gives the bacteria a chance to reproduce and develop resistance.

If your doctor decides against giving you antibiotics, trust in his/her judgment. However, if all the signs of infection or pus presents later, be sure to let your podiatrist know so that appropriate action can be taken.

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