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Outdated rule of thumb: antibiotics can often be taken shorter
If you are prescribed antibiotics, it usually means to continue taking the medication after the symptoms have gone and until the end of the pack. According to experts, however, this rule of thumb is outdated. Studies in recent years have provided more and more evidence that a shorter intake time is just as effective for many infections.
Responsible use of antibiotics
Antibiotics help fight bacterial infectious diseases and thereby prevent the spread of pathogens. However, experts repeatedly point out that such drugs are used less frequently and correctly. After all, antibiotic use often leads to serious side effects. Responsible use of antibiotics can also lead to an increase in resistant pathogens. What many patients are not aware of: with many infections, the medication can also be taken shorter.
Less resistant pathogens through shorter therapy
It is said time and again that an antibiotic should be taken until the end of the pack, even after the symptoms have disappeared.
However, in recent years there have been increasing studies that come to the conclusion that antibiotics do not have to be taken so long for various infections.
This is pointed out by the German Society for Infectious Diseases (DGI).
A shorter therapy has the advantage that less resistant pathogens arise.
And this is indeed beneficial. Finally, such resistances must be combated with determination, as effective antibiotics are becoming increasingly scarce worldwide.
"The longer the bacteria are exposed to the selection pressure of an antimicrobial agent, the more likely it is that predominantly resistant pathogens, that is to say insensitive to the agent, will survive," said DGI chairman Prof. Dr. Gerd Fätkenheuer.
Don't just stop taking antibiotics
However, antibiotics should not be stopped if the symptoms are gone. How long an antibiotic must be taken depends on the type of disease, its severity, the individual course and the type of bacteria.
"With a urinary tract infection, it can sometimes be sufficient to take the medication for only one day," says Fätkenheuer.
“In the case of a serious infection with staphylococci, on the other hand, those affected often have to take antibiotics for several weeks. For example, too short a therapy could lead to complications and resistance development. "
As short as possible, as long as necessary
There is no silver bullet in dealing with antibiotics. In which cases a remedy can be stopped as soon as the symptoms have subsided, and in which cases not, can only be decided by a doctor.
The DGI therefore advises affected patients not to omit the medication themselves and also to take care not to interrupt the therapy or to forget doses.
"A doctor ideally specifies a duration of intake that is specifically tailored to the respective infection and its expected course," said Fätkenheuer.
If the symptoms have healed early or if the remedy does not work, the patient should contact the doctor and discuss how to proceed. "As with any other drug, the same applies to antibiotics: the intake should be as short as possible, but as long as necessary." (Ad)