Taking a proper dose of antibiotics can help with a rapid reduction in the number of bacteria, but is it essential to finish taking a prescribed course of antibiotics, even if you feel better?
Some experts suggest, always finish a course of antibiotics, failing to complete a course of antibiotics could fuel the rise of antibiotic resistance.
According to some experts, quitting antibiotic early will lead to an increase in resistance or cause your infection to come back with a vengeance.
Rather than the stopping of antibiotics too early, the cause of resistance was “unnecessary” drug use, a research team wrote in The BMJ medical journal.
“We’re not at all saying that patients should stop when they feel like it or that patients should ignore their doctor’s advice,” said Tim Peto, professor of medicine at the University of Oxford and a co-author of the article.
But Peto believes that ending a course of antibiotics to prevent resistance is a counter-intuitive view and that there is “not enough knowledge” for doctors to know how long antibiotics should be prescribed for.
Martin Llewelyn, professor of infectious diseases at Brighton and Sussex Medical School, said: “The idea that stopping antibiotic treatment early encourages antibiotic resistance is not supported by evidence, while taking antibiotics for longer than necessary increases the risk of resistance.”
With little evidence that failing to complete a prescribed antibiotic course contributes to antibiotic resistance, it’s time for policy makers, educators and doctors to drop this message, argue Martin Llewelyn and colleagues.
The team said further research is needed to work out the best alternative guidelines, but “patients might be best advised to stop treatment when they feel better.”
Nevertheless, we all need to follow the advice of our clinicians who will no doubt hold out for some more conclusive scientific evidence before changing their advice surrounding antibiotics.