Are You Contagious While on Antibiotics?

February 2, 2024

If you’re sick, you may require antibiotics to recover. Antibiotics are drugs prescribed to cure bacterial infections. While they can cure bacteria under the right dosage, it can take a while for the medication to fully kill the bacteria and clear the infection. Therefore, additional symptom management may be required for the first few days while taking antibiotics. During this time, you may be wondering if you are still contagious while on medication. This article will explain how antibiotics work to help you recover from an illness and how long you have to isolate from others while on antibiotics. If you’re experiencing illness symptoms, visit AFC Urgent Care Edgewater for same-day illness care in Edgewater, MD.

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How do Antibiotics Work?

Antibiotics are a medication that works wonders against bacterial infections. Antibiotics cannot be used to treat viral infections, and in order to determine whether you’re suffering from a bacterial or a viral infection, your medical provider will need to perform diagnostic testing. There are a variety of different antibiotics that your healthcare provider may prescribe you if you are suffering from a bacterial infection. The exact antibiotic used will depend on your medical history, whether you have any allergies to medications and the kind of bacteria that is causing your infection.

In most cases, you are no longer contagious after you have been on antibiotics for a week. This timeframe can vary depending on the type of infection you have and the antibiotic you are taking. In rare cases, some bacteria are known as antibiotic-resistant bacteria which are more difficult to eliminate with antibiotics which could mean that certain antibiotics will not be effective or will need to be prescribed in a higher dose. It is important to always finish your full course of antibiotics. If you stop taking antibiotics once your symptoms have resolved, you may still have some of the bacteria left and the infection could return.

Viral vs Bacterial Infections

It is important to understand the difference between a virus and a bacterial infection. Antibiotics are ineffective against viruses, however, many viral and bacterial infections share early symptoms. It is nearly impossible to determine whether you are suffering from a viral or bacterial infection without diagnostic testing by a medical professional. Seeking medical care early while you’re symptoms are mild can help you begin antibiotics before your illness worsens which will result in a more mild illness and a faster recovery.

Most viruses and bacteria are able to spread from person to person very easily. However, bacterial infections usually require direct contact through sharing food or drinks or touching an infected person. This makes many bacterial infections easily spread in school environments and among younger children due to close contact with others and a general lack of hygiene.

Precautions to Minimize Transmission

It is important to do your part in preventing the spread of bacterial infections. Although antibiotics are a useful tool for treating bacterial infections, you can still be contagious while on antibiotics. In some cases, you could be contagious even though you no longer have symptoms. Because of this, staying home from school or work if you're sick and maintaining good hygiene are critical aspects to help prevent the spread of bacterial infections.

Early detection can help you recover quickly and reduce the spread of your infection. If you are suffering from a bacterial infection, you should take your antibiotics precisely as prescribed and complete the treatment course to ensure the infection goes away and does not return.

Visit AFC Urgent Care Edgewater for Same-Day Illness Diagnosis & Treatment

If you’re experiencing illness symptoms, it is vital that you seek medical care to determine whether your symptoms are caused by a viral or bacterial infection. Not only will this help you avoid spreading your illness to others, but it will also ensure you are correctly treating your illness to promote a fast recovery. At AFC Urgent Care Edgewater, our walk-in clinic provides illness diagnosis and treatment services without the need to schedule an appointment in advance. Simply walk into the clinic when it’s convenient for you.

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We maintain short wait times so that you can access the care that you need when you need it most. Our clinic is equipped with a laboratory on-site which allows our medical staff to perform advanced diagnostic testing at the time of your visit and get the results quickly. Our medical staff is fully board-certified and able to provide treatment for a variety of different illnesses. We accept most medical insurance plans and offer affordable care options. Walk in today, or contact the clinic directly by calling (410) 956-3394 to learn more.

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