Senior male holding medications and a glass of water.

Are You Taking Your Antibiotics the Right Way?

As we age, our bodies become more prone to infections and illnesses. And while antibiotics have greatly improved our ability to fight off difficult-to-treat bacteria and make our recovery time much shorter, improper usage can lead to unwanted side effects and severe health risks in seniors. Older adults should familiarize themselves with the various aspects of proper antibiotic use.

What are Antibiotics & How Do They Work?

Antibiotics are drugs that fight infections caused by bacteria. They work by either killing the bacteria directly or stopping it from multiplying and spreading further. Different types of antibiotics have different effects, so you should always ensure that you’re taking the correct antibiotic prescribed by your doctor.

Why is it Important to Take Antibiotics Correctly?

Incorrectly taking antibiotics can lead to several problems. One of the most common is antibiotic resistance, which occurs when bacteria become resistant to certain medications. Antibiotic resistance is natural, but it’s happening more rapidly due to improper use, meaning that the drug you’re taking may not be as effective the next time your doctor prescribes it. Even worse, it may not work at all!

Below are a few tips to help ensure that you are taking antibiotics correctly:

Follow Your Doctor’s Dosage Instructions

  • Take Your Antibiotics at Recommended Times. Taking antibiotics as prescribed by your doctor is one of the most important steps you can take to ensure maximum effectiveness. Not only do antibiotics need to be taken in proper intervals to avoid an overdose, but you should also take them at the proper time(s) of the day. Skipping doses (which we’ll discuss below) and taking them at incorrect times could result in reduced efficacy due to bacteria being able to build up a tolerance, making it more challenging to fight the infection. Following your doctor’s instructions will help provide the best results for your recovery.
  • Don’t Skip Doses. Even if you start feeling better, you shouldn’t skip doses. Failing to complete the entire course of antibiotics as prescribed can cause bacteria in your body to become resistant, meaning they may no longer respond to the same drug. If you forget to take a dose, it’s best to take it as soon as you remember. However, if it is close to your next scheduled dose, you should contact your doctor to see what they recommend. They may tell you to skip the dose, or they may say you should double up.
  • Don’t Stop Taking Them Early. It might be tempting to stop taking antibiotics as soon as you start feeling better, but it’s crucial to finish the entire course. When you don’t complete the treatment, some bacteria may still be present in your body, which can lead to a relapse. If left unchecked, this can lead to an even worse illness than when you started!
  • Don’t Share Antibiotics with Friends/Family. When it comes to antibiotics, sharing is not caring. Taking antibiotics prescribed to another person can be ineffective and lead to antibiotic resistance or dangerous side effects. Your doctor knows your medical history and is the best judge of what medication is proper for your body. Antibiotics are intended for only one person and should never be shared.
  • Make Sure Your Doctor Knows About All the Medications You’re Taking. It’s vital to tell your doctor about all the medications and supplements you are taking, as they may interact with each other and can cause serious side effects if taken together. Additionally, some medications can decrease the effectiveness of antibiotics.

Common Questions About Taking Antibiotics:

Is It Safe to Take Antibiotics On an Empty Stomach?

Many antibiotics work best when taken with food or a full glass of water. This helps the medication move through your gastrointestinal tract and be more easily absorbed by the body. However, some antibiotics may need to be taken on an empty stomach, so it’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions carefully.

When is the Best Time of Day to Take Antibiotics?

The best time of day to take antibiotics depends on the type of medication and your individual needs. Your doctor can give you specific advice on when to take your antibiotics. Generally speaking, taking antibiotics at precise intervals throughout the day, such as every 12 hours, is best. And if your antibiotics need to be taken with food, then make sure to schedule the medications so that you are taking them at mealtimes.

We Can Help You Manage Your Medications

Antibiotics can be powerful tools in fighting infections, but using them correctly is essential! At Echo Lake, we can help seniors manage their medications safely and correctly. Our staff will work closely with your doctor to create a medication plan tailored to your needs. We also provide reminders for taking medicines on time, monitor any side effects you may experience, and remind you when to refill your prescriptions. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you live your best life at Echo Lake!