Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Why Do We Need to Finish Antibiotics?

Yesterday I visited the doctor because I felt my gums on my lower left wisdom tooth flaming in pain. The clinic doctor had given me some probable causes of the gum infection. Then he prescribed two packs of antibiotics that I should take two caps twice and thrice a day.

I just wondered, why do we need to take this dosage strictly in, for example, five days at the least? When the pain is gone, can't we just stop the course of antibiotics? Won't the chemicals be harmful to us when the infection is already treated (or so we know)?

My aunt says that this is because our antibodies will become immune to the chemicals if we don't finish them and take them in the suggested number of days consecutively. 

Really? I researched further and found the following: (You can find the sources at the end of the post.)

The right term to note here is antibiotic resistance. If a bacterium does not respond to an antibiotic which has earlier known to be effective towards the same bacteria, the bacteria will develop resistance towards that particular antibiotic. Thus, inappropriate use or intake can fuel the occurrence of antibiotic resistance.

Other factors include: inadequate dosage, inadequate duration of treatment, improper selection of antibiotics, poor quality or counterfeit antibiotics.

More "Scientific Explanations"

When antibiotics are used to treat bacterial diseases, not all bacteria will die or become disabled but some would remain. The reason for these bacteria to remain is the presence of resistance genes within their genetic material and therefore develops the ability to adapt towards antibiotic use. As bacteria can replicate by division, it is possible for resistance related genes be inherited by replicated bacteria.

At the same time, a bacteria containing antibiotic resistance gene can exchange the said gene as a plasmid directly into a nearby bacteria through a mechanism known as conjugation. Thus, multiple bacteria can become antibiotic resistant without the need to replicate at all.

When such bacteria become abundant, they will act as pathogens and the diseases manifesting due to such bacteria will not respond to the same antibiotic, which was effective earlier.


Bacteria become resistant to antibiotics when they are under-treated. As bacteria multiply rapidly, random mistakes occur in their DNA which can make them resistant to antibiotics. Your immune system will turn on you. The best way to take in all the doses on time. This will kill the bacteria rapidly and efficiently.

Book Sources

Antibiotic resistance: methods and protocols By S. H. Gillespie
Antibiotic Resistance: Understanding and Responding to an Emerging Crisis By Karl Drlica, David S. Perlin