How to navigate the antibiotic highway

Now that we’ve covered some basics about antibiotics, let’s get specific. What you want to know is-

When do I need to take an antibiotic?




Most medical experts believe we need to STOP using unnecessary antibiotics. (photo from Pixabay)


Experts consider as many as 50% of the antibiotics prescribed in the United States unnecessary or inappropriate. This causes

  • antibiotic resistance ,
  • avoidable side effects of the drugs, and
  • increased medical cost without benefit.

The best source of medical advice for you personally is your own doctor, or one who talks to and examines you.

Exceptions to rules exist, every medical situation is unique.  So although these recommendations are firm, they are not absolute. This is just a partial list which includes most but not all common infections.

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STOP- don’t treat these with antibiotics

Any form of upper respiratory infection including

  • colds,
  • laryngitis,
  • bronchitis,


infectious mononucleosis, aka “mono”

Acute viral gastroenteritis, aka stomach flu, with nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea



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SLOW DOWN- these may not need an antibiotic, at least not immediately

Ear infections -otitis media

Sinusitis– sinus infections

spider or tick bites- many of these are not bites at all, but are other skin diseases, including bacterial infections (see below)

sore throats– pharyngitis or tonsillitis


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GO- these infections need heavy duty action; you will likely need an antibiotic to recover from these conditions

Urinary tract infections– this includes the kidney, bladder, prostate

Skin infections including animal and human bites

Pneumonia (although can can be due to viruses, especially in children)

Whooping cough –pertussis

Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever- these are both transmitted by tick bites; but not all tick bites result in infection

Sexually transmitted diseases caused by bacteria – gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis

Any infection severe enough to require admission to a hospital- including infections of any internal organ, bones, joints, brain; included here are infections which develop during a hospital stay


Check out the links for more info. You probably still have questions that I didn’t cover, so please ask and I’ll tell you more.



(By the way, I hope you enjoyed the photos. I took them at a Veterans Day parade.)

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Sincerely, Dr. Aletha