Survival Antibiotic Use
To gain a basic understanding of antibiotic options for use in emergency situations, when no medical care is available.
The Antibiotics Pocketcard Set is a great quick reference guide to help with choosing the correct antibiotic for a given situation.
It is not uncommon for people to have something along the lines of part of a bottle of Amoxicillin from a leftover prescription sitting up in their medicine cabinet. Other folks will get their doctor to write them a “just in case” prescription for foreign travel, which might sit around after it hasn’t been needed on the trip. People in remote areas may even keep veterinary antibiotics on hand for pets or livestock and consider them a possible emergency self treatment option. Common vet antibiotics often kept around are Amoxicillin 500Mg, Cephalexin 500Mg and Ciprofloxacin 250Mg, among others.
First, consider other options that might work as well with less potential side effects. This can be as simple as slowing down and paying extra attention in order to avoid injury, when medical help is limited. Also having a good medical kit close at hand to quickly clean and cover small wounds can often be enough to prevent infection. Also, don’t overlook herbal options, such as Echinacea and Goldenseal, which can be a good preventative measure during cold and flu season. If preventative measures aren’t enough, look into keeping some Mucinex handy, which used to be prescription only, as well as Sovereign Silver nasal spray for cold and sinus issues. Oscillococcinum has worked well against flu symptoms. For UTIs, D-Mannose works wonders. I’ve used these in the past to great effect.
Obviously, if you are in a situation that would require prescription antibiotics, get to a doctor, if possible. Even though they are prescribed enough to be familiar, these drugs still carry risks that can be quite serious and unexpected. Someone who is allergic to penicillin can end up worse off than before, dealing with anaphylaxis. Taking Cipro can cause tendons to rupture, even though it is uncommon. If a problem is viral, not bacterial, the symptoms can be similar, but taking antibiotic will not help.
However, what about in situations where getting to advanced medical care is not an option? We are past the early days of penicillin where antibiotics were a magic pill. The big challenge now can be matching up with the right antibiotic for the job. What works well for an upper respiratory infection might not even make a dent in a nasty skin infection. Just taking random antibiotics until you find one that works is not a healthy option. Assuming that a doctor is not available, one way to find out if the meds that you have on hand are even a reasonable treatment option is to consult a medical reference.
The easiest of these references to use, that we have found, is the Antibiotics Pocketcard Set. These are plastic cards made for doctors to keep in the pockets of their lab coats as a quick reference when prescribing antibiotics as a treatment option. There is quite a bit of information printed on each side, but the most straight forward is a listing of good antibiotic choices broken down by the location of the problem. For example, in the “Skin and Soft Tissue” section, there are specific recommendations for fifteen different issues, such as Animal Bites and Burn Wounds. There is also information for dealing with with antibiotic resistant bacteria. An updated version of the cards is printed on a yearly basis and will set you back less than ten bucks. If you are going to keep oral antibiotics around, this reference is well worth the money.
Find out what medications your family uses on a regular basis and which ones should be avoided, due to known allergic reaction. Then, decide what place antibiotics and other medication options have in your emergency planning.