Can you miss a dose of antibiotics? An expert answers

An expert answers what exactly happens when you miss taking a dose of antibiotics.

I hate taking antibiotics; Amoxicillin, Ciprofloxacin, Doxycycline; you name it. I hate them all! Sometimes, I find it more exhausting than the health issue I m facing. General dislike for these meds apart, I hate the fact that my stomach goes for a toss after each round of antibiotics. Someone once likened the workings of antibiotics to formatting the computer. Good, bad; it gets rid of everything! This is precisely the reason why I hate taking them. And like many others I m sure, I am guilty of skipping a couple of doses until my doctor pulls me up for it.

While I loathe taking these meds, deep down inside, I know that skipping them isn t right either. So I got in touch with Dr Pradip Shah, HOD and General Medicine specialist at Fortis Hospital, Mumbai and asked him what exactly happens while we skip a dose of antibiotics.

Why do we take antibiotics?

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Naturopaths and holistic healthcare professionals may give you a hundred reasons why you should never take antibiotics. But the fact of the matter is that they save lives and are sometimes necessary. They are very efficient in treating infections that cannot be handled by the immune system. So it is wrong to write them off completely.

Some medicines are taken occasionally, like painkillers and antihistamines. But antibiotics are prescribed for a course of a few days, sometimes for ten days, sometimes for five, says Dr Shah. During this period, we expect the patient to follow the course diligently and not skip dosages and stop the treatment abruptly.

According to Dr Shah, the antibiotic medicines eliminate the disease-causing pathogens. But when you skip a couple of doses, there will be a partial reduction in the germs. The time gap will give the bacteria a chance to develop immunity to the drugs and soon, a strain of antibiotic-resistant bacteria will start proliferating. Before you know it, you will be knocking on your doctor s door again, says Dr Shah.

What about missing just one dose?

Don t worry if you miss one dose, says Dr Shah. Your body already has a reserve of antibiotics from the previous dose. But he insists that you take it as soon as you remember. But don t overcompensate by taking double doses.

How can you ensure you don t forget?

Setting reminders on your phone should help remember when to take the antibiotics. Dr Shah also recommends buying a pill organiser. It s a plastic box with seven compartments for every day of the week. Arrange your antibiotics in each of the compartments and take them every day, says Dr Shah. That way you can ensure not a single dose is missed.

Also read: Is taking antibiotics bad for you? and Things to remember while taking antibiotics.

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