The Dangers of Antibiotics: A Personal Story

I have just emerged from a health-horror story. Sadly, the person who scripted it was none other than—myself.

Some weeks ago, I began feeling uneasy at work. My forehead felt warm, and my hands grew clammy. “I’m coming down with something,” I announced, and left my desk.

An hour later, I had a fever of 102 degrees.

The sudden onset of fever made me wonder what the cause could be. Common sense told me it was heat exhaustion—Delhi is experiencing extreme temperatures—and I had been out on a couple of meetings, during which I was offered diet soda and coffee, which I drank without a thought.

The fever rose every six hours, and subsided when I popped a paracetamol.

After the third episode, I decided it had to be an infection of some sort, probably a UTI, and on a friend’s well-meaning advice, started a course of antibiotics. I also replaced the paracetamol with a stronger anti-fever tablet. After all, I had crucial meetings lined up for the next two days.

After the first antibiotic pill, I felt better. The fever did not return. This convinced me I had been right, so I took the next one. That’s when things began to go downhill.

First, my appetite froze. Completely. Next, whatever I had eaten was thrown out with great violence by my body. The fever returned with a vengeance. And a strange discomfort took hold inside my stomach.

The next day, I took myself to a doctor, who prescribed some blood tests. It turned out to be viral hepatitis, which happens when the liver is infected and inflamed. Now, I have been advised complete bed rest for a whole week, perhaps more, depending on how I feel. The liver, I have been warned, is not to be toyed with.

Had I not taken the dose of antibiotics, I would probably have saved myself most of this trauma. Antibiotics are processed by the liver which, in my case, was already under attack.

I am on the path to recovery now, and going strictly by the doctor’s advice. But to all who are reading this, I would say, learn from my mistake. Do not self-medicate.

I have also tendered a heartfelt apology to my body, promising to listen to its call for help and give it the time and care it deserves, instead of forcing it to rush back into action so I can go on with the “important things” in my life.

Never again!

The Pew Charitable Trusts study in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that antibiotic overuse is rampant in America. While nine out of 10 Americans recognize that antibiotics can fight bacterial infections like strep throat, more than one third falsely think that they are also effective at fighting viral infections like the common cold. And, less than half—47 percent—of Americans realize that their overuse of prescription antibiotics can harm others besides themselves.

Based on my own experience, I am sharing what I have learned about antibiotics:

  • Antibiotics can treat bladder infections, pneumonia, strep throat and some ear infections; all of which are caused by bacteria. They are ineffective against viral disease, including colds and upper respiratory tract infections.
  • The widespread use and abuse of antibiotics has led to many strains of bacteria growing drug-resistant. If your primary care physician says you do not need an antibiotic, don’t take it.
  • Doctors advise against taking antibiotics leftover from your last illness. The bacteria strain affecting you this time could be different.
  • Even if you feel better after a couple of pills, complete your course of antibiotics, once prescribed. Otherwise, bacteria may learn to adapt to the drug and grow resistant.
  • Never take antibiotics to prevent an infection. They are not meant to be a precautionary mode of treatment.

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68 comments

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill3 years ago

We have to be careful when self medicating. I never use anti-bacterial soaps, etc. When cleaning, regular soaps kill most germs.

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Philipa Longley
Philipa Longley3 years ago

Thanks for sharing you story.

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Debbie S.
Past Member 3 years ago

Here in the U.S.A. you can't just go get antibiotics without a prescription anyway.

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Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran3 years ago

self medication is dangerous!

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven3 years ago

thanks for the article.

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sandra vito
Sandra Vito3 years ago

Gracias

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Steve McCrea
Steve McCrea3 years ago

And the same should be true for animals - we need to stop giving livestock who are not ill antibiotics. This is a MUCH bigger issue that humans overusing antibiotics, and yet it gets almost no press. It should be ILLEGAL to give well animals antibiotics, and we need to elect congresspeople who will make it so.

---- Steve

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Monica Collier
Monica C3 years ago

I am unable to take antibiotics, I have survived several illnesses where doctors told me I HAVE to take them. Hmmmm how is that possible?

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Manuela C.
Manuela C3 years ago

Good advice. Thanks for sharing your story, many people still believe antibiotics are a cure for everything, including viruses.

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