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Study: should antibiotics really be taken until the end of the pack?


In many cases, antibiotics can be taken shorter

Although the rule of thumb "As short as possible, as long as necessary" usually applies to taking medication, an exception is made here for antibiotics. According to previous teaching, the funds should normally be taken until the end of the pack. But there is now increasing evidence that a shorter antibiotic intake is just as effective.

Responsible use of antibiotics

Although the number of antibiotic resistances continues to increase and is repeatedly called not to use such medicines in large numbers, according to a study, doctors in Germany often prescribe antibiotics only on suspicion. In addition, such agents are also used against diseases against which they are completely ineffective. And another problem has long been considered that antibiotics are not taken long enough. But now there are increasing indications that a shorter intake is often just as effective.

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.

But in recent years, studies have 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 also 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.

"For many years it has been assumed that a longer antibiotic therapy reduces the likelihood of a return of the infection or the development of resistance", explained the DGI chair Prof. Dr. Gerd Fätkenheuer.

“The idea behind this was to kill all the bacteria that could make us ill. Today we know that the longer the bacteria are exposed to the selection pressure of an antimicrobial agent, the more likely it is that predominantly resistant pathogens that are insensitive to the agent will survive, ”said the doctor.

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)

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