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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 drugs.com 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:
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)
· Skin or Soft Tissue Infection (cellulitis, boils)
· Actinomycosis (causes abscesses in humans and livestock)
· 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.
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.