The Most Common Myths about Antibiotics

These common myths about antibiotics contribute to their misuse. The problem is their continued misuse generates bacterial resistance followed by the risks this entails. Learn more in this article!
The Most Common Myths about Antibiotics

Last update: 11 April, 2021

The myths around antibiotics have led to a crisis in the therapeutic range for treating bacterial diseases. These medications are in high demand and the myths around them only encourage people to use them incorrectly.

The reason for this is these microorganisms have been able to develop resistance mechanisms that hinder the effectiveness of antibiotics. As a consequence, scientists have needed to develop new antibiotics with a different mechanisms of action.

These treatment options are limited though, and we may reach a point where certain diseases become untreatable if we don’t change how we use antibiotics. For this reason, it’s essential to be informed about these medications and not believe all the urban myths out there.

Medications are dangerous chemical substances and people shouldn’t use them without a justified reason. Thus, medical or pharmaceutical advice is essential when taking antibiotics.

Myths about antibiotics

1. Antibiotics can cure everything

As we said above, many people associate the word antibiotic with a magic drug that can cure absolutely everything. Obviously, this is false. Antibacterial drugs, as the name implies, are medications used against bacteria.

When you go to the doctor with a bacterial infection and they prescribe an antibiotic, you tend to get better within a day or two. That is why people think them effective against any illness. What’s probably happened, in reality, is that a doctor prescribed an antibiotic because there was a bacterium to eradicate.

A person holding a few blisters of antibiotics.

2. You should buy the expensive antibiotic, not the cheap one

This is another myth about antibiotics that’s become widespread among the population. We tend to associate “expensive” with “best quality,” and this is seldom the case. As you can see, it’s important to be clear about the concepts of generic and commercial drugs. Furthermore, the only difference between them is some have a fancy brand name.

Both drugs contain the same chemical substance and the same amount. There are some rigorous studies to ensure it. As you can see, the more expensive antibiotics are only so because the companies spend a lot of money marketing the brand.

This is kind of like buying the same pizza in two different types of packaging. One is expensive because the manufacturer’s name is in it, and the other is cheap because it has no brand name. The pizza is basically the same but under a different commercial presentation.

3. Antibiotic resistance isn’t a problem for healthy people

Anyone, of any age, in any country, can contract a bacterial infection that’s resistant to antibiotic treatment. Bacteria that have already developed a resistance mechanism can infect anyone, and the treatment that was previously effective against it is no longer effective.

For this reason, it’s important not to overuse this type of medication so as not to “warn” the bacteria and lead them to adapt to its effects. The goal of medical prescriptions is to control the use of these drugs.

A pharmacist at work.
Antibiotics require a prescription due to their side effects.

4. Myths about antibiotics: Use what you already had at home

There are many different kinds of antibiotics. Each one of them has a series of indications and administration guidelines. Note that not all of them are appropriate for every type of infection.

Also, every person reacts differently to these types of treatments. For this reason, you should never use old medications. The drugs that you intend to reuse may be in poor condition and may have lost their effectiveness.

Thus, don’t use them unless your doctor okays them. They should also determine the amount and duration of the treatment.


Finally, don’t believe everything you hear and read. It’s important to know how this type of medication works and always consult a health professional if you have any doubts. As you can imagine, only a doctor or pharmacist can advise you on the use of antibiotics.

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  • Sánchez, J. S. (2006). Resistencia a antibióticos. In Revista Latinoamericana de Microbiologia.
  • Paredes, F., & Roca, J. J. (2004). Acción de los antibiòticos. Ámbito Farmacéutico Farmacologia.