Using antibiotics out of my cupboard

(71 Posts)
appletarts Sat 16-Mar-13 08:43:43

I've got antibiotics left over from mastitis in my cupboard and I just know I've got tonsillitis starting. I know doc won't prescribe because I'm not yet on my knees but I've had it before and know where this is heading. I have 2 small children and absolutely no support if I am ill except hubby who will be back at work. The antibiotics are also prescribed for tonsillitis, do I take them?????

Cherriesarelovely Sat 16-Mar-13 08:45:14

I would. I'm not a medical expert by any means but as long as they are in date yes I would. I feel for you, it is horrible being ill (especially with tonsillitis) when you have little ones.

kinkyfuckery Sat 16-Mar-13 08:45:14

You have a whole course of antiobiotics just sitting around?

Don't take them, you obviously don't know how to use them properly.

Cherriesarelovely Sat 16-Mar-13 08:47:42

Well, to be fair, I was once taking part in a race that was very important to me (raising money for charity- not Olympic standard!). I had been having urinary infections, it cleared up but the nurse gave me another course just in case it started once I was away for the race. How is that different?

DesperatelyChasingBloodyDog Sat 16-Mar-13 08:49:00

Anti-Bs only work if you take the whole dose, now if you have leftover that might not be enough to treat the tonsilitis and you did not take then for long enough to treat the mastitis.
So I would say YABU and irresponsible as well.

KittyMcAllister Sat 16-Mar-13 08:50:16

Healthcare professional here - I wouldn't take ab's that haven't been prescribed for a particular problem. They might have worked in the past but might not be appropriate this time. Also, you are meant to finish any course of antibiotics even once the infection seems to have cleared up, and not have any "left over" - that's how resistance develops.

ilovechips Sat 16-Mar-13 08:53:36

They may not be the right antibiotics for tonsillitis. Not all antibiotics are best for all infections. Non-completion of a course of antibiotics is another reason for growing resistance to many antibiotics. Taking the wrong antibiotics may mask the symptoms but not cure the infection. Most cases of tonsillitis will get better without antibiotic intervention. So lots of reasons why i personally wouldn't!

r3dsquirrel Sat 16-Mar-13 08:53:56

The reason your doctor would be unlikely to prescribe you antibiotics is because most cases of tonsillitis are viral and antibiotics won't help. Taking unnecessary antibiotics or taking them for inadequate lengths of time is what causes antibiotic resistance and the emergence of the so called 'superbugs' you hear so much about these days. Take paracetamol, drink plenty of fluids and see your doctor if you aren't improving in 3-4 days.

appletarts Sat 16-Mar-13 08:53:57

Once mastitis has cleared its cleared, that was ages ago and so I didn't finish course and it didn't come back. Normally wouldn't but desperate measures.

atacareercrossroads Sat 16-Mar-13 08:54:11

Ive done this, the only problem was when they didn't work,went to docs and guess what he prescribed the ones I had just finished doh!

Unless you've got a medical degree you're not telling us about, YABU to decide to overrule a doctors decision on whether you should complete a course of prescribed antibiotics, then decide that you will take those leftover antibiotics for a completely different health complaint.

IwishIwasmoreorganised Sat 16-Mar-13 08:59:37

No early, if you're ill enough to need antibiotics then they should be prescribed by a medical professional for the problem that you have at this point in time.

Your mastitis may have cleared up and not come back - you were fortunate. If you are prescribed antibiotics then you have an obligation to complete the course as I'm sure the Dr and pharmacist would have told you. Without doing this, we run this risk of having more and more resistant bugs. This is becoming a real issue and soon, even simple everyday operations will carry much higher risks as a result of infections which we are unable to treat.

Please behave responsibly.

Sirzy Sat 16-Mar-13 09:03:13

You still haven't got a full course to take now.

YABU and daft

r3dsquirrel Sat 16-Mar-13 09:05:13

'once mastitis has cleared its cleared'

No actually. Just because your symptoms have resolved dosnt mean all of the bacteria have gone. That's why you are prescribed a 'course' of antibiotics, the length of which will have been determined by trials looking at the use of a particulate drug in a particular condition. Not completing the course leaves low levels of bacteria alive which have 'met' your antibiotic and can go on to develop resistance..... putting you in a difficult situation should your condition recur or relapse.

The dose of antibiotic you have and the number of days worth may not be sufficient to treat a bacterial tonsillitis (if that's what you have..... which is unlikely). It's actions like this that result in people presenting with resistant infections a few years down the line. It might seem like a small thing to you but silly decisions like this actually have a massive impact on a global scale.

cozietoesie Sat 16-Mar-13 09:06:33


You clearly don't understand how antibiotics work and your attitude, if typical, is one of the reasons we're all in such trouble with ABs no longer working due to immunity.

To put it in 'big hand at two and little hand at four' language.

Antibiotics will clear up the initial symptoms fairly fast but you'll still have little blighters swilling around in your blood stream although you don't know it. They'll be sick and probably fairly quiescent - but still there. You stop the ABs and some of them recover - with immunity to the ABs because they've been through it and are still alive. If you pass on that infection somehow, you're passing on an infection which is therefore immune to the AB you took.

And now you're planning, of necessity to do the same thing again ? (Because if you have 'leftovers' it won't be enough of an extended does to kill off the infection you have in its entirety.


OneHandFlapping Sat 16-Mar-13 09:06:33

You're supposed to finish the course, even when the symptoms have cleared, so you shouldn't even have any just in the cupboard.

It's cavalier attitudes to antibiotics that have fuelled the evolution of drug resitant bugs.

cozietoesie Sat 16-Mar-13 09:07:26

Sorry - x post.

TandB Sat 16-Mar-13 09:08:10

That would be a really daft thing to do. For a start it might not be tonsillitis, it might just be a really sore throat. I'm prone to tonsillitis and can't always tell when it's that or something else.

Secondly, you need the right antibiotics. I've just had penicillin for tonsillitis and have had to go onto a completely different sort for the chest infection and pleurisy that developed while I was on the first set - the penicillin didn't touch it.

Thirdly, you won't have a full set and are likely to do more harm than good.

A really good natural remedy for a very sore throat is a gargle of cayenne pepper. It doesn't half sting but it strips all the gunk off your throat - it's the most instant relief I've found for anything. I used to use it during my pregnancies when I couldn't take much medication. Even my anti-anything-that-doesn't-come-off-a-pharmacy-shelf DP tried it and admitted it worked.

VerySmallSqueak Sat 16-Mar-13 09:09:03

I've done it in the past - I always save any antibiotics that aren't used for whatever reason just in case.
I would never tell anyone else to do it - but I'll take any old antibiotics lying around,because my GP won't prescribe easily,and I can't afford to be taking too much time off work,as well as having children to look after.

Some of us just can't 'come back in a few days if things haven't improved,.
I won't take anti b's if I don't need them,but as an asthmatic I know when I've got a chest infection and need them,and I could just cry when I'm left to get really poorly,when I could have headed it off early.

Please don't anyone else take that as an ok to do it though.

Pendipidy Sat 16-Mar-13 09:09:47

Op , do you understand now how you are supposed to take antibiotics?

GrowSomeCress Sat 16-Mar-13 09:10:59

Oh jeez now we know why there is such a massive problem with AB resistance

cozietoesie Sat 16-Mar-13 09:12:11

Then you shouldn't mention it, VerySmallSqueak. That is a really irresponsible attitude and one that you - as an asthmatic - should abhor. What are you going to do 10 years down the line if there are no working antibiotics left for an infection you develop?

And I'm not being alarmist. This is really happening out there.

VerySmallSqueak Sat 16-Mar-13 09:14:21

Perhaps we could do with improving the support networks so people aren't feeling the need to do this.

If sick isn't paid but the wage is needed it's not so easy to wait it out.

If kids need looking after but there is no childcare support available it's not so easy to wait it out.

I completely understand and agree with what's being said,but sometimes it's hard to 'do the right thing'.

noblegiraffe Sat 16-Mar-13 09:15:54

Our children are going to die of simple infections because antibiotics don't work any more because of people doing exactly what you've done and are planning on doing.

Thanks for that.

ginmakesitallok Sat 16-Mar-13 09:17:14

VerySmallSqueak - maybe if you finished the prescribed course of abs your infection would be less likely to return?? DD2 was prescribed abs on Monday - 10 day course. She seems fine now - but unfortunately we have to persist for another week. That's the way abs work properly

DameSaggarmakersbottomknocker Sat 16-Mar-13 09:20:22


Shakirasma Sat 16-Mar-13 09:22:19

Very small squeak- after all the posts explaining why taking antiBs properly is so important I can't believe you posted that. That has got to be one of the most stupid admissions in the face of fact I have seen on here.

So bugger all the Ill and infirm who die every year of c diff, mrsa and the like, cos you know better than your doctors and your perceived comfort and childcare issues are faaaaar more important!

VerySmallSqueak Sat 16-Mar-13 09:22:29

Without wishing to be too rude,I have already stated that I know I am in the wrong.

But taking a few old antibiotics once in several years ( who realistically has spare anti b's lying around on a regular basis?) for a genuine health reason,is not me,singlehandedly ensuring that the future's children are dying from lack of effective anti b's.

I'm am sure there's a lot more frivolous use on a far larger scale out there that could be targetted. Rather than targetting women on the bottom end of the pay scale who haven't got the luxury of sitting at home waiting a chest infection out when the have a course of antibiotics originally prescribed for a chest infection in the cupboard.

Not so long ago (don't know if it's changed now ) you could buy anti b's over the counter in other countries.

Buzzardbird Sat 16-Mar-13 09:23:07

Pretty sure it was explained to me as a child why it is important to finish a course of abs.
maybe the problem is that at least half the population (going by this thread) seem to have no idea about resistance?

mungojerrie Sat 16-Mar-13 09:26:04

I have a course of anti biotics unopened that I was prescribed for mastitis but told to use as a last resort. I managed without and so still have these. Absolutely I would use them if I had a reoccurrence of mastitis and I do not see how this is a problem or issue.

DesperatelyChasingBloodyDog Sat 16-Mar-13 09:26:14

the whole point, Squeak is that you're not supposed to have spare ABs at all.
You must - and I never usually use that word - finish the course, so you cannot have any just rattling round your cupboards.

Sirzy Sat 16-Mar-13 09:26:25

But if you have a course of antibiotics in your cupboard its not a full course so therefore on at least 2 occasions you are only take a part course which isn't going to help anything in the long run.

And you can't expect GPs to prescribe antibiotics when they aren't needed just to keep people happy/at work or whatever. They should only be prescribed when there is a medical need to do so.

VerySmallSqueak Sat 16-Mar-13 09:26:31

Shakiasma I find your post re:perceived comfort quite patronising btw.

I am not stupid,I am honest.

Buzzardbird Sat 16-Mar-13 09:26:44

Oh, I beg your pardon, you do know, you just don't care. As you were.

cozietoesie Sat 16-Mar-13 09:28:03

Read and weep think.

antibiotic resistance

VerySmallSqueak Sat 16-Mar-13 09:28:40

On the occasion that I have done it,it has on the whole been course prescribed to dh that he hasn't used at all. For chest infections.
I know what type and dose to take.

Shakirasma Sat 16-Mar-13 09:29:07

Mungo- taking a full course of antiBs for the same condition that they were prescribed for is different to taking a random number of leftovers for something that may be viral, or a different condition all together.

oh my <speechless>

RooneyMara Sat 16-Mar-13 09:30:56

I have occasionally been prescribed antibiotics, not felt the need to start the course and therefore had a full course lying about, still in date, in the cupobard.

Mostly I just don't go and get the prescription now if I think it's unnecessary, and sometimes I'm given a script just in case something gets worse. And don't need it.

So if that were the case and I had a full course unstarted, and it was the correct one for the illness afaik, I'd probably ring up the Dr and ASK if they thought it would be a good idea to take them, and then if they said so, yes, take them.

I had an ex who was so incredibly stupid that when he got the same virus we had all had in the past week, he panicked, someone gave him some old amoxycillin and he took it - for nothing - and swore it 'sorted him out' hmm

He was such a dickhead. Stupid people always seem to think they're really clever don't they.

I went through a stage of frequent water infections leading to kidney infections. Consultant at hospital gave me a pack of antibiotics and told me to take 1 at the first sign to nip it in the bud. If ok next day no need to take another one. I know its not exactly the same and I'll be flamed but I would take them.

HerrenaHarridan Sat 16-Mar-13 09:37:07





What has to happen before people take this seriously?

Millions of people's lives, in the no to first any future, depend on you FINISHING THE BLOODY COURSE!

cozietoesie Sat 16-Mar-13 09:39:00

Anyone got a 'banging your head against a brick wall' emoticon?

appletarts Sat 16-Mar-13 09:39:48

I really didn't understand how they work until post above, don't understand why doc doesn't explain that and I'm not dim, several degrees etc, not medical ha ha. But still, I can't wait it out and drink lemon tea and stay in bed, who will look after kids!

toobreathless Sat 16-Mar-13 09:39:55

squeak think you are getting a very hard time here.

Yes it is likely to be viral in origin & antibiotics won't work but you know this and are still clearly concerned. Sometimes we DO appropriately give antibiotics for a throat infection- see CENTOR criteria if you're interested.

I would be very happy to discuss this sort of thing over the phone in GP OOH, so one option is to give them a ring and a Dr will ring you back. Or you could sit tight and give it 24 hrs and see how things are tomorrow.

There is also increasing evidence that this 'finishing the course' mantra is nonsense and actually does not lead to increasing resistance although inappropriate prescribing in the first place clearly does.

For those who would like to get their facts straight before blasting the poorly OP NICE have excellent guidelines here

OP hope you feel better soon

HerrenaHarridan Sat 16-Mar-13 09:41:50

Gah! Not too distant!

appletarts Sat 16-Mar-13 09:44:04

Uhm... not on bottom end of pay scale either..

DesperatelyChasingBloodyDog Sat 16-Mar-13 09:45:11

Well, Toobreathless, seeing as OP will be self-prescribing it's hard to see how she will be taking the ABs appropriately.

noblegiraffe Sat 16-Mar-13 09:47:46

Tonsillitis usually clears up in 3-4 days with or without antibiotics.

VerySmallSqueak Sat 16-Mar-13 09:48:06

Thank you toothbreathless.

Lueji Sat 16-Mar-13 09:48:29

Stay off the antibiotics, unless the gp prescribes them!!!
And take the FULL course, FGS!!!

Now, for tonsillitis, have a few sips of a strong drink and honey.

If it gets really bad and lasts the weekend, go to the gp..

Fakebook Sat 16-Mar-13 09:53:16

You didn't finish the course of antib's for the mastitis? shock. Very naughty.

YABU. Rub the inside of your forearms up to the wrist quite hard on both arms. That normally makes my tonsils go back down for a few hours. Really. Try it.

feeldown Sat 16-Mar-13 10:00:15

I've been given 4 prescriptions of antibiotics, and then subsequently been requested to stop taking them as either a) I don't have a bacterial infection or b) they're not working or they're not the correct medication or c) I'm suffering side effects/reactions. I've never been told that stopping them mid way will cause a problem. For that reason though, I have had half used packets of medication in the cupboard too.

I have self prescribed antibiotics in the past but only with the fact that I am given them quite often to keep in the house with the instructions "If you feel you need them, then feel free to take them at xyz dosage" - I think if you suffer regular infections (e.g. tonisilits, skin infections, UTIs etc) it's quite common to be given them to take when you feel you need them. I have in the past with infections phoned GP and said "I have a packet of this in the cupboard, left over because it didn't work for UTI, can I just take for this infection?" and normally they say just to try it out.

That said I am very relucant to take any antibiotics as I'm allergic to Metronidazole and Trimethoprim, and I've taken so much Nitrofurantion that it's useless. I can't take anything that's not penicllin basically, I'm regularly prescribed all manner of penicillin and am genuinely concerned that one day there'll be no antibiotics that work for me.

WishIdbeenatigermum Sat 16-Mar-13 10:43:06

Resisting the urge to rant at you op. If you didn't know, you didn't know. Gargle with soluble asprin and drink sage tea- either tea bags or from the garden seeped in hot water and sipped: very soothing.

VerySmallSqueak Sat 16-Mar-13 10:53:48

Tonsilitis can be effectively sorted out without antibiotics,if it is viral.

I tried to weather out the last bout of tonsilitis.After a week or so I had tonsilitis and ulcerative pharyngitis. I could barely swallow my own spit.

Went to the dr's,and was prescribed antibiotics and hit the floor running after 48 hours.

I will always give something that could most likely be viral the chance to sort itself out before I reach for the antibiotics. I would never give my children unprescribed antibiotics.

But I will still stand by taking the antibiotics I have and are suitable if I have a chest infection,rather than end up really poorly as a result of not getting them when I needed them.

goldenlula Sat 16-Mar-13 11:02:01

I wouldn't. Call the ooh doctors if you need to. I have a few anti biotics in my cupboard prescribed by my dentist as I have been suffering with nasty abscesses so he prescribed some to keep incase I get another one at a weekend, then I can start them and get an app on the Monday. That is the oly thing I would use them for and only if I was sure it was an abscess.

r3dsquirrel Sat 16-Mar-13 11:14:30

Verysmallsqueak..... if you have a chronic condition and suffer regular infections speak to your gp. Often where appropriate they will prescribe a reserve course of antibiotics to be stored at home and started in specific circumstances. This ensures that you are taking an appropriate antibiotic for the reccomend duration and that the frequency of your exacerbations are recorded and reviewed. This might help you avoid finding yourself one day with a resistant bacteria that has evolved against the short courses of potentially inadequate antibiotics you've been taking. It might also protect those around you from picking up a resistant bug from you.

SirBoobAlot Sat 16-Mar-13 11:22:42

Some people are actually painfully stupid. You should always finish a course, even if you feel 'fine'.

OP if you have tonsillitis, you don't need ABs, you need plenty of fluids, throat sweets and paracetamol. And I say that as someone who gets it at least every few months.

VerySmallSqueak Sat 16-Mar-13 11:23:44

Ime my gp won't prescribe antibiotics unless you display the signs of rigomortis. r3dsquirrel.
But what you suggest can't hurt to try. Perhaps a well reasoned discussion when I am well would be a good idea.
I will try that. You're quite right since what I have been doing really isn't the answer.

DeskPlanner Sat 16-Mar-13 11:25:40


Montybojangles Sat 16-Mar-13 12:45:45

The majority of tonsillitis cases are viral rather than bacterial infections, so antibiotics would be pointless and the throat will improve regardless over 3-7 days.
Mastitis and tonsilitis are unlikely to be caused by the same bacteria, so you may end up taking an antibiotic that has no effect on the bacteria (if there is even one there) causing your sore throat.
Do you know the recommended dose for a throat infection? The recommended treatment duration? These things vary according to type of infection, area of infection etc.
Can you see I'm heading to a YABU, VVU? And this sort of self medication and people only taking part of a course of prescribed antibiotics has a lot to do with the terrible problems we now have with antibiotic resistance.

Coffeenowplease Sat 16-Mar-13 13:51:23

I cant believe people can be this stupid. Ofcourse you dont take them for something else when you dont even have the full course or know whether they are the correct one.s. You shouldnt have them left over in the first place as you should have finished the course. No wonder we have so many problems with antibiotic resistance.

Lueji Sat 16-Mar-13 14:59:08

I initially thought this was a wind up thread after the other one about antibiotics...

RocknRollNerd Sat 16-Mar-13 15:40:23

toobreathless thank you for posting the NICE guidelines, I've just read up on the Centor criteria and now understand why DS does get prescribed anti-b's when he gets tonsillitis.

Lonecatwithkitten Sat 16-Mar-13 15:55:03

The pharmacokinetics required if antibiotics to treat mastitis are very different of those needed for tonsillitis. Plus if a course is not completed for mastitis you can get sub clinical mastitis that is the big is sequestered with no outward signs for a while till it flares back up again.
The latest stake holder meeting on antibiotic use found that the single biggest cause of resistance is poor compliance that is not finishing courses, not taking the course as prescribed for the condition it was prescribed for.
One single person keeping antibiotics and the reusing them would not cause a problem, however thousands all doing the same does. The butterfly effect.
There is work to produce antibiotics that force us to comply single dose gives the entire course - it is here in veterinary medicine and it's coming to human medicine.

oldraver Sat 16-Mar-13 16:07:43

It is because of idiots like you that anti-biotics are starting to loose their efficacy.

appletarts Sat 16-Mar-13 20:55:13

I imagine this is a bit boring to other people! I didn't take the antibiotics and I don't think I have tonsillitis because I didn't develop a fever but I have white bumps on my tonsils. I'm all worried about getting ill, has anyone ever had these white bumps and it not been tonsillitis?

HappySeven Sat 16-Mar-13 21:35:25

It could be tonsil stones. Also, most tonsillitis is viral so antibiotics won't help. It starts to clear up at about the time AB start to 'kick in' so most people assume the AB help. They don't.

Lucyellensmum95 Sat 16-Mar-13 21:42:04

lonecat how do those ABs work (genuine interest)

Animation Sat 16-Mar-13 22:10:54

Appletarts - take no notice of the harsher tones on here. Yes it is tempting to take antibiotics that you've got in when you're struggling with your throat and have small kids to look after. I've done it - taken antibiotics that I have in and felt much better and relieved of such nasty symptoms. We do what we do to get by best we can.

Lonecatwithkitten Sat 16-Mar-13 22:40:03

It's all to do with the pharmacokinetics enabling sustained minimum inhibitory levels in the blood stream for a certain length.

r3dsquirrel Sat 16-Mar-13 22:57:15

appletarts.... white 'bumps' on your tonsils often indicates tonsillitis. However, most tonsillitis is caused by a virus and not a bacteria. The white spots just mean your tonsils are inflamed and fighting infection. Not that you need antibiotics. If you don't have a fever its unlikely that you have a bacterial.tonsillitis so you've done the right thing in not taking the antibiotics. Tonsil stones don't present as white bumps.

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