Getting what you need

Antibiotics aren’t always the answer

“When you’re sick, you want to feel better fast,” says Catherine O’Neil, M.D., physician at Bucknell Student Health. “ Many students come to us asking for antibiotics. But if they’ve got a virus, antibiotics aren’t going to help.  In fact, they might actually cause harm.”

Viruses vs. bacterial infections

Bacteria cause strep throat, pneumonia, and urinary tract and sinus infections. If you are suffering from any of these issues, antibiotics are the way to go.

The common cold, most coughs and the flu are caused by viruses. Using antibiotics to treat these illnesses won’t make your symptoms go away and won’t keep others from catching them.

Is there a risk to taking antibiotics?

“Taking antibiotics when you don’t need them can cause some bacteria to grow stronger,” explains Dr. O’Neil. “If the bacteria grows too strong, it can become antibiotic-resistant. If this happens, any illnesses this bacteria causes will be harder to treat and might even require hospitalization.”

Dr. O’Neil adds that if you are prescribed antibiotics to treat a bacterial infection, it is very important to finish all of the medication you are given. If you stop taking your prescription when you start to feel better, the bacteria that haven’t been eliminated can grow stronger and become antibiotic-resistant.

Student Health is here to help you

“When you’re sick, it’s not always easy to know if what you’ve got if caused by a virus or bacteria,” says Dr. O’Neil. “Stop in to Student Health, we’re here to help you. Just understand that there’s a good chance we won’t be prescribing antibiotics.”

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