How long do antibiotics take to work?

ANTIBIOTICS are commonly prescribed to people to treat and prevent types of bacterial infections.

Most people will have been on a course of the medication at some point in their lives.


Many people will have taken antibiotics for various illnessesCredit: Getty Images – Getty

How long does it take for antibiotics to start working?

Antibiotics work by killing bacteria or preventing them from spreading, the NHS states.

It is important to remember they do not work for everything.

They do not work for viral infections such as colds and flu, Covid, chest infections, ear infections in children, and most coughs and sore throats.

They will likely be prescribed to you if the bacterial infection wont clear up without them or if you could infect others.

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Medication could also be given if the infection would take too long to clear on its own or if it carries the risk of more serious complications.

Antibiotics get to work immediately, but you might not start to feel better straight away.

How quickly you recover with antibiotic treatment varies. It also depends on the type of infection you’re treating and how bad it has got.

Most antibiotics should be taken for seven to 14 days. In some cases, shorter treatments work just as well.

Your doctor will decide the best length of treatment and correct antibiotic type for you.

Do I need to take my full course of antibiotics?

You should always take antibiotics as directed on the packet or the patient information leaflet that comes with the medicine, or as instructed by your GP or pharmacist.

It is important to complete the full course of antibiotics, even if you are feeling better.

This is because, if you don’t complete the course you run the risk of the infection coming back. And it can also help prevent antibiotic resistance.

Don’t stop your antibiotics early without first talking with your healthcare provider.

Most antibiotics should be taken for seven to 14 days


Most antibiotics should be taken for seven to 14 daysCredit: Getty Images – Getty

If you forget to take an antibiotic, it’s not the end of the world, but take that dose as soon as you remember and carry on with the course of antibiotics as normal.

But if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed one and continue your regular dosing schedule.

Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one as this can increase the risk of side effects.

When should I start feeling better when taking antibiotics?

The time in which it takes you to feel better will depend on the course and type of treatment, and how well your body responds to it.

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You should feel better towards the end of the course.

If you have completed the course and don’t see any signs of improvement, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

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