Can you buy antibiotics over the counter?

ANTIBIOTICS are probably the greatest discovery of mankind.

The magic drugs mean we now live in a world where people don’t die from tonsillitis and urinary tract infections.

Infections are becoming increasingly difficult to kill with antibiotics


Infections are becoming increasingly difficult to kill with antibioticsPhoto credit: Getty

But when antibiotics are used unnecessarily to fight diseases caused by viruses that don’t respond to antibiotics, or for minor infections that would go away on their own, we promote antibiotic resistance (AR).

At this point, germs like bacteria and fungi develop the ability to defeat the drugs designed to kill them, making drugs less effective in the future.

Can I buy antibiotics?

In short, the answer is no – you need a doctor’s prescription.

A growing number of infections, such as E. coli and the sexually transmitted disease gonorrhea, are becoming increasingly difficult to kill with standard antibiotics.

For this reason, antibiotics are “backed up” by healthcare professionals so that they are “only used appropriately,” explains Thorrun Govind, pharmacist and chairman of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society.

According to the NHS, antibiotics are only used to treat bacterial infections, which are unlikely to go away or infect others without antibiotics.

They are also prescribed for infections that would take too long to heal without treatment and that carry the risk of more serious complications.

“Not all antibiotics work for all bacterial infections,” Thorrun told The Sun. “It is therefore important that we match the infection with the antibiotics provided.”

“It is also important that we take and prescribe the antibiotics fully.

“Unless we’re uncomfortable with the drug, it’s important to talk to the prescribing doctor before we stop it,” she says.

Earlier this year, former Health Secretary Thérèse Coffey admitted sharing antibiotics with the family.

“It’s really important to make sure we don’t reuse or share our antibiotics,” says Thorrun, “as that can also make the drugs less effective.”

How long does it take for antibiotics to work?

It might feel like you have been unwell for a long time, and in most cases you want to get well as soon as possible.

Antibiotics work by killing bacteria or preventing them from spreading, according to the NHS.

According to Mike Hewitson, a Bristol pharmacist, antibiotics work immediately, but you may not feel better right away.

Mike tells The Sun: “How quickly you start working depends on what antibiotic you’re taking, how strong it is and what infection you’re treating.

“If you get them via an IV, they can be up and running within hours.

“But some oral antibiotics can take about weeks to work.”

Most antibiotics should be taken for seven to 14 days. In some cases, shorter treatments work just as well.

When will I feel better and are there side effects?

Every person is different – as is the reaction to antibiotics.

Most people will feel better towards the end of the course, but that varies.

“It depends on the infection and the antibiotic you’re taking,” says Mike Hewitson, a Bristol-based pharmacist.

“Remember that even if you are feeling better from the infection, the antibiotics can make you feel unwell.

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“Antibiotics can cause nausea or upset stomach,” he adds.

If you have completed the course and do not see any signs of improvement, talk to your doctor or pharmacist. Can you buy antibiotics over the counter?

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