I cringe every single time I hear people say that they stopped taking an antibiotic after a day or two because they felt better. Those of you who are not trained in medicine, who flippantly decide that you won’t continue to take an antibiotic because you “feel much better”, should be aware that by engaging in this habit, you are making the issue of antibiotic resistance even worse.
Bacteria are quite crafty, because they constantly find ways to neutralize or block the effects of antibiotics. Most of the time, they acquire genetic mutations from the bacteria which have become resistant. So even if some of the more susceptible bacteria die, even one resistant bacterium can multiply rapidly and thus replace all the bacteria which were killed. Those new bacteria also have the same resistance which the original stubborn bacterium has. This is how things can get pretty ugly pretty quickly in the face of bacterial resistance.
Antibiotic resistance can occur even when patients follow instructions and take the full course of antibiotic therapy, but the chances are far greater when patients miss doses or stop taking the medication because a smaller proportion of the bacteria are killed or inhibited. Another situation in which antibiotic resistance can run rampant is when antibiotics are taken for viral infections such as the common cold. Specific antibiotics are used for specific types and strains of bacteria, and are not one-size-fits-all medications. Yet people continue to foolishly turn to an antibiotic (usually one which was prescribed for a bacterial infection, and which was abandoned before the full course was taken) when they have symptoms which they believe to be from a bacterial source. I have even heard friends freely admit that they took their child’s or spouse’s leftover antibiotic in hopes that it would make them feel better.
Please don’t be one of those people who contributes to antibiotic resistance by being irresponsible about antibiotic use!