How to Use Antibiotics

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image by Stephen Cummings

Antibiotics are used at specific doses for specific illnesses; it’s important to have as much information as possible on medications that you plan to store, so consider purchasing a hard copy of the latest Physician’s Desk Reference. This book comes out yearly and has lots of information that just about every medicine manufactured today.  Online sources such as are also useful, but consider a hard copy for your library.  You never know when we might not have a functioning internet.

The Desk Reference lists medications that require prescriptions as well as those that do not. Under each medicine, you will find the indications, which are the medical conditions that the drug is used for.  Also listed will be the dosages, risks, side effects, and even how the medicine works in the body. I don’t have to tell you that this is a large book! It’s okay to get last year’s book, the information rarely changes much.
It’s important to start off by saying that you will not want to indiscriminately use antibiotics for every minor ailment that comes along. In a collapse, the medic is also a quartermaster of sorts; you will want to wisely dispense that limited and, yes, precious supply of life-saving drugs.
Liberal use of antibiotics is a bad idea for a few reasons:
  • Overuse can foster the spread of resistant bacteria, as you’ll remember from the salmonella outbreak in turkeys recently that made so many people ill.
  • Potential allergic reactions may occur that could lead to anaphylactic shock (see the section on this topic earlier in this book).
  • Making a diagnosis may be more difficult if you give antibiotics before you’re sure what medical problem you’re actually dealing with.  The antibiotics might temporarily “mask” a symptom, which could cost you valuable time in determining the correct treatment.

You can see that judicious use of antibiotics, under your close supervision, is necessary to fully utilize their benefits. Discourage your family members from using these drugs without first consulting you.

There are many antibiotics, but what antibiotics accessible to the average person would be good additions to your medical storage? Here are some of my recommendations for drugs (also available in veterinary form without a prescription) that you will want in your medical arsenal:
·         Amoxicillin       250mg/500mg (FISH-MOX, FISH-MOX FORTE)
·         Ciprofloxacin   250mg/500mg  (FISH-FLOX, FISH-FLOX FORTE)
·         Cephalexin       250mg/500mg (FISH-FLEX, FISH-FLEX FORTE)
·         Metronidazole  250mg  (FISH-ZOLE)
·         Doxycycline     100mg (BIRD-BIOTIC)
·         Ampicillin         250mg/500mg (FISH-CILLIN, FISH-CILLIN FORTE)
·         Sulfamethoxazole 400mg/Trimethoprim 80mg (BIRD-SULFA)
image by farlukar

There are various others that you can choose such as Azithromycin, but these selections will give you the opportunity to treat many illnesses and have enough variety so that even those with Penicillin allergies with have options.  Cephalexin, although not in the same drug family, has been quoted as having a 10% cross-reactivity rate with Penicillin.  Let’s discuss how to approach the use of antibiotics by using an example.

Amoxicillin (Aquarium version: FISH-MOX, FISH-MOX FORTE, AQUA-MOX):  comes in 250mg and 500mg doses, usually taken 3 times a day.  Amoxicillin is the most popular antibiotic prescribed to children, usually in liquid form.  More versatile and better absorbed than the older Pencillins, Amoxicillin may be used for the following diseases:
·         Anthrax  (Prevention or treatment of Cutaneous transmission)
·         Chlamydia Infection (sexually transmitted)
·         Urinary Tract Infection (bladder/kidney infections)
·         Helicobacter pylori Infection (causes peptic ulcer)
·         Lyme Disease (transmitted by ticks)
·         Otitis Media (middle ear infection)
·         Pneumonia (lung infection)
·         Sinusitis
·         Skin or Soft Tissue Infection (cellulitis, boils)
·         Actinomycosis (causes abscesses in humans and livestock)
·         Bronchitis
·         Tonsillitis/Pharyngitis (Strep throat)
This is a lot of information, but how do you determine what dose and frequency would be appropriate for what individual? Let’s take an example: Otitis Media is a common ear infection, especially in children. Amoxicillin is often the “drug of choice” for this condition.
First, you would want to determine that your patient is not allergic to Amoxicillin. The most common form of allergy would appear as a rash, but diarrhea, itchiness, and even respiratory difficulty could also manifest. If you see these symptoms or if your patient develops a rash, you should discontinue your treatment and look for other options..  Antibiotics such as  Sulfamethoxazole/Trimethoprim or Azithromcyn could be a “second-line” solution in this case.
image by artwitsyl

Once you have identified Amoxicillin as your treatment of choice to treat your patient’s ear infection, you will want to determine the dosage.  As Otitis Media often occurs in children, you might have to break a tablet in half or open the capsule to separate out a portion that would be appropriate.  For Amoxicillin, you would give 20-50mg per kilogram of body weight (20-30mg/kg for infants less than four months old).  This would be useful if you have to give the drug to a toddler less than 30 pounds.  A common child’s dosage would be 250mg and a common maximum dosage for adults would be 500 mg.  Luckily, these dosages (even in veterinary equivalents) are exactly how the commercially-made medications come in the bottle. Take this orally 3 times a day for 10 to 14 days (twice a day for infants).

If your child is too small to swallow a pill whole, you could make a mixture with water (called a “suspension”). To make a liquid, crush a tablet or empty a capsule into a small glass of water and drink it; then, fill the glass again and drink that (particles may adhere to the walls of the glass).  You can add some flavoring to make it taste better. Do not chew or make a liquid out of time-released capsules of any medication; you will wind up losing some of the gradual release effect and perhaps get too much into your system at once.  These medications should be plainly marked “Time-Released”.
You will be probably see improvement within 3 days, but don’t be tempted to stop the antibiotic therapy until you’re done with the entire 10-14 days.  Sometimes, you’ll kill most of the bacteria but some colonies may persist and multiply if you prematurely end the treatment.  In times of trouble, however, you might be down to your last few pills and have to make some tough decisions.
For your patients with penicillin allergies, consider stockpiling Doxycycline, Ciprofloxacin, Tetracycline, Metronidazole, Azithromycin, Clindamycin or Sulfamexazole/Trimethoprim.   These drugs belong to different pharmaceutical families and shouldn’t cause a Penicillin allergy to erupt.
If you’re the person who will be responsible for your family’s medical well-being, take the time to learn how to diagnose and treat common illnesses.  You never know if hard times might one day make modern medical care inaccessible.
Dr. Bones is an M.D. and Nurse Amy is a nurse practitioner.  You can follow them on Twitter, @preppershow, and on Facebook.

26 thoughts on “How to Use Antibiotics”

  1. Thanks for the great suggestions. I have tried to get my family doctor to give me a script for some of these meds and explained that I wanted them, "in case" TSHTF. He smiled and did his best not to laugh and then declined politely. I'm interested in how to obtain these antibiotics using a veterinarian. can I walk in and explain my reason and have a hope of buying them from him or is there a place online that I can purchase an emergency supply? Any suggestions?
    Keep up the good work !

      1. Our pet store here in California are saying they will no longer be able to sell any over the counter antibiotics as of Jan. 2019

    1. Go to BUDK website and look for fish and bird antibiotics on there. This is where I get mine. They are the same dosage as the doctors prescribe at a doctor’s office.

  2. you can buy all the (vet) antibiotics Dr. bones listed and many more from I have noticed the price has gone up by at least 40% in the past 6 months or so…….all available without a script………

  3. The pet stores by me have stopped carrying them. I took the advice of the Patriot Nurse and have been ordering online through CALVETSupply. Great place to order from and no prescriptions needed. There are expirations printed on the bottles (most are 2 years or more out) plus if you store them properly they should be good for a lot longer. You can research that info online.

  4. Almost any medications you may want or need can be ordered through Canadian Online Pharmacies. I have been ordering Anti-Biotics and such for a year now. No problems.

    1. Hi Dave
      I have been buying some meds from BlueSky in Canada but they require a Rx.

      Are there some outlets that don't? US mail?

  5. joseph alton, m.d.

    Hi all,

    In pill or capsule form, you'll find that these medications remain effective for years after their expiration dates (if they are stored in a cool, dry, dark place). The government's Shelf Life Extension Program tested these out and found them to be effective. Check out my article "The truth about expiration dates" on our blog at

    Thanks for your comments! Joe Alton, M.D. aka Dr. Bones

  6. what i mean is if its says like 250mg for the Aquarium antibiotic, would this be the same 250mg prescribed to people?

    1. The Survival Mom

      Yes, Chantelle. Dr. Joe Alton physically compared the medications, fish with human, and they were identical. They also checked with a pharmacist because the pills look exactly alike — and they ARE exactly alike. Same pills.

  7. An effective homeopathic cure for ear infections is Garlic Mullein drops. I’ve been using it for almost two decades whenever any of my four kids got ear infections. It works quickly and is totally natural. You can purchase it at Whole Foods or on the Internet. You warm the oil by sticking the bottle in a cup of hot water, then put a couple of drops in each ear. Put cotton wool or tissue in the ear. Repeat 2-3 times a day. I found you need to continue one day after the pain is gone, so there is no reoccurrence. I also give my kids Tylenol right before I put the drops in. These drops are amazing. We have not needed antibiotics for ear infections in nearly twenty years. Now my grandsons are using Garlic Mullein drops.

  8. I am a little confused where you were talking about kids at first it said 20-30mg then later 250mg, if you were trying to give a child 40 mg, how would you do that, I get taking the pill apart would you weigh it and try to get out just 40 gm? Or would you mix it all with water and only give part? Also if you get the 250mg pill size would you have an adult take 2 at a time so they get 500mg or just 1 twice a day? Thanks for any help.

    1. The Survival Mom

      Crystal, I’ve asked Doctor Bones to clarify those instructions. Now that I read them again,they are a little confusing. I’ll post his response here when I get it.

  9. FEMA published a report about shelf life of drugs. They tested drugs that had been kept in a dry cool place out of sun light. They found that after ten years all the drugs tested at or near original strength. In other words, if you have kept them in a cool dry place bets are they are ok to take. They also found that in ones that were degraded they were all still safe to take. The only thing effected was the measurement of potency. They just might not be as potent as they were when you bought them.

    That is why the warning is there in the first place. And they guessed at that. This report I was talking about was the first one where they actually tested drugs shelved for ten or more years etc. Sorry, I could not find link, my computer crashed not to long ago and lost everything.

    the bot

    p.s. I too am looking for a new place to buy, made in america fish antibiotics.. links appreciated

  10. Pingback: 23 Medical Supplies Most People Overlook – Tactical Buzz

  11. How do you mix the fish Doxy for an 8 lb cat? Purified water but how much and how much of that do you give the kitty to equal .4mg?
    Thank you

  12. Pingback: How to Birth Prepping – A Newbie Prepper Checklist – Prepping 101 | Goodbye To Grid

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