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15 October 2017

Should you finish a course of antibiotics?

Should you finish a course of antibiotics?
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A new review suggests that despite current advice to always finish a course of antibiotics, we should be more concerned about overuse than underuse. The reasoning behind always completing a course of antibiotics is that it will prevent the bacterial strain from becoming resistant.

Antibiotic resistance occurs when a strain of bacteria is repeatedly exposed to the same antibiotics. The means the antibiotics will no longer work on that strain even if they did so previously.

However, new research has challenged this instead stating that a short course could be more effective and finishing the course could actually increase the chance of antibiotic resistance.

This conclusion was made by considering a number of factors such as the fact that ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach will not factor in individual patient needs and that there have been few studies on the minimum treatment period for antibiotics.

This information should be taken with a grain of salt however, as it was not a verified study but a narrative review which discusses evidence about a particular topic. The review was carried out by several UK institutions including Brighton and Sussex Medical School, the University of Oxford and the University of Southampton. It was published in a peer-reviewed journal.

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