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What to do if the antibiotic does not "work"

In order for the treatment of an infectious disease to be successful, it is important to adhere to the following principles:

1. Antibiotics are not prescribed for colds and viral infections, such as flu and coronavirus disease. After all, antibiotics do not work on viruses. At the same time, these diseases can be complicated by bacterial infections. In this case, the doctor will prescribe you an antibiotic.

2. Not all bacterial infections require the use of antibiotics. Some may go away on their own, such as otitis or pharyngitis. However, this does not mean that you do not need to consult a doctor - only a doctor can determine whether it is necessary to take an antibiotic in your case.

3. It is very important to choose the right antibiotic. It should act on the pathogens that caused your particular disease. You don't always need the strongest or newest antibiotic, or the one with the broadest spectrum of action.


How do doctors determine which antibiotic you need?

To do this, it is necessary to determine which pathogen caused the inflammation. Usually, doctors know which pathogen causes this or that disease, for example, scarlet fever is caused by streptococcus. In such cases, antibiotic therapy is prescribed based on the causative agent that exclusively or most often causes the disease.

However, in cases of uncertain diagnosis, severe course of the disease or frequent relapses, a sample of biological material (for example, urine, sputum, swab from the throat, nose, genitals) is taken from the patient and sent to the laboratory to determine the causative agent.

Microbiological research takes time. And therefore, before determining the causative agent and its sensitivity, doctors prescribe an antibiotic in accordance with national or international recommendations based on the results of examination of patients with an identical diagnosis.

Yes, most urinary tract infections, for example, are caused by E. coli, and there are antibiotics that reliably fight this infection.

Two or three days after prescribing antibiotics, the doctor checks whether there is progress in the patient's condition, evaluates the results of bacteriological studies and decides whether to leave the existing treatment or prescribe another drug.

If antibiotics do not work, there may be several reasons for this:

☛ Your disease is caused by a different pathogen than the one against which the antibiotics were prescribed. The doctor will look at the tests and prescribe another drug.


☛ The bacteria that caused your problem have developed resistance to the antibiotic that used to work on them. In this case, you will be prescribed another antibiotic to which the bacteria have not yet developed resistance.


It is precisely so that we do not run out of antibiotics, which in a difficult situation can save lives, doctors do not prescribe them when they can be dispensed with, and if they are needed, they prescribe the drug that is able to cope with the infection.

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