When your doctor prescribes medication to you, you assume it’s safe, right?
For the most part, this is true. But there’s the really annoying fine print, where the side effects can be worse than the problem you’re trying to fix in the first place.
Even prescription antibiotics come with precautions. You want to get the best results as quickly as possible so your condition gets better. For that to happen with a new antibiotic, keep these four tips in mind while you’re on the medicine.
1. You Could Be Allergic
Just because you’ve never had an allergic reaction to medicine before doesn’t mean you can’t.
Take some time to read the warnings that come with your prescription before you swallow your first dose.
Yes, there are some obvious symptoms that you can’t ignore, especially if you have an anaphylactic reaction. This would happen within the first hour, and you’d have difficulty breathing or immediate swelling.
Not all of the signs of an allergic reaction are as severe as anaphylaxis, though. Over the first couple of days, talk to your doctor if you notice signs such as abdominal pain, vomiting, rash, hives, or swelling. They will probably switch your medication.
2. You Have to Finish the Entire Prescription
You’re feeling better, so why bother taking the rest of your medicine? This mentality may work with pain meds, but when you stop taking your antibiotics early, you’ll get sick again.
Follow the dosage as prescribed. Each antibiotic works differently. Some will kill the bacteria causing the problem quickly, while others take longer.
You start to feel better because the bacteria are being controlled. That doesn’t mean they’re all gone. When you stop taking your meds, those that are still alive begin to multiply again.
But the next time you try to fight them with the same antibiotics, it might not work because they’ve developed a resistance to the medication.
3. Be Careful What You Eat and Drink
Ask your doctor if you can follow your normal diet while you’re on your antibiotics. You might be surprised by the response!
For instance, if you’re taking tetracycline, ciprofloxacin, or doxycycline, you should avoid dairy products. Milk, cheese, and yogurt interfere with the effectiveness of the medicine, and so can fruit juices.
Always avoid alcohol when you’re taking medicine, including antibiotics. Alcohol inhibits the effect of the medication and increases your chance of side effects. Many prescriptions list “liver damage” or “nausea” as warnings, and alcohol can cause both of these problems by itself.
If you’re taking Bactrim or metronidazole, drinking any alcoholic beverage can cause severe reactions.
To be safe, always read the warnings and stick to your doctor’s recommendations. Wait 72 hours after your last dose before you introduce the prohibited food or drink back into your body. That way, you know the antibiotics are out of your system.
4. Watch for Drug Interactions
When you’re talking to your doctor and they suggest prescribing an antibiotic, don’t gloss over your current drugs. There are lots of prescriptions, vitamins, and natural products that can interact with this new medicine.
If you don’t tell your doctor what you’re taking, you risk an overdose if something else has the same ingredient as the antibiotic. This could show up as vomiting, mental confusion, or seizures.
Common Drugs That May Interact With Antibiotics
Other side effects are less obvious. Anything can interact with an antibiotic if the environment in your body is right—or rather, wrong.
However, these are some of the frequent triggers of products that interact with the most common antibiotics.
Melatonin is often taken to help with sleep. By itself, this ingredient is rarely harmful. In fact, birth control pills often have melatonin in them.
Let the doctor know if you’re taking any hormones or products with melatonin in them. The antibiotics can reduce the effectiveness of whatever else you’re taking. With birth control, this means an increase in your chance of pregnancy.
St. John’s Wort
St. John’s Wort is an over-the-counter natural product used for treating depression. It can interfere with blood thinners and some cancer medications.
In addition, the supplement reduces the effectiveness of antibiotics. It’s essential that you talk to your doctor before stopping any treatment for depression. They will give you alternative suggestions while you’re on your antibiotic.
Whether medicinal or recreational, your doctor needs to know about your cannabis habit. Currently, studies show that THC and CBD have minimal interference with antibiotics and other meds.
Until more studies are conclusive, though, it’s recommended that you let the doctor know about your cannabis use before starting any new meds. Veriheal offers information on the safety of antibiotics and cannabis here.
We take antibiotics to feel better, but as with anything, there can be side effects and problems. To maximize your course of treatment, keep these four tips in mind as you start a new antibiotic.