An Alert on Antibiotic Misuse
Antibiotics are commonly prescribed to older adults, but there’s a lot of misuse and misunderstanding about the drugs’ purpose. In a poll of 2,256 adults ages 50 to 80, nearly half reported filling an antibiotic prescription in the past two years. Almost 1 in 5 admitted to taking leftover antibiotics without checking with a health care professional. This is risky for two reasons: First, it’s important to take all antibiotics as prescribed, so none should be left over. Second, your previous medication might not be the right antibiotic to treat your next illness, and it may be expired by the time you use it, reducing its effectiveness. More than a third of respondents said they believed that antibiotics help with colds or the flu, which isn’t true. Both are caused by viruses, whereas antibiotics fight only bacteria. The use of antibiotics when they’re not needed can increase the prevalence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the community.
Source: University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging, published online Nov. 4, 2019