ZocdocAnswersDid I not take my antibiotics long enough?

Question

Did I not take my antibiotics long enough?

I had pink eye and stopped taking the antibiotics my doctor gave me after my eyes stopped being red. Now they are getting red again. Should I have taken more antibiotics? Are you supposed to take them all even after you have healed up?

Answer

One of the basic principals of taking antibiotics is that you really have to complete the entire prescription of the antibiotics, even after the symptoms are getting better and you are feeling better. Antibiotics work by slowly killing off the bacteria that are causing the infection. After a few days, most of the bacteria will be killed off, so the symptoms will be much better. However, this does not mean that all of the bacteria are gone, which is why usually the antibiotics need to be taking for seven or ten days, sometimes longer, even if the symptoms are most gone in the first two or three days. Stopping the antibiotics early in your case probably means that the infection has come back. Therefore, I strongly recommend that you go back to see your primary care doctor or your eye doctor, whichever originally prescribed the antibiotics for you. They will take a look again at your eyes and help you determine whether the infection is coming back. I think it is likely that they will want to put you back on antibiotics. This time, however, make sure that you take the antibiotics exactly as prescribed and for the full duration that your doctor requests.

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