Should You Stop Taking Antibiotics When Feeling Better?

Playing Should You Finish Your Prescribed Antibiotics?

According to new research, taking antibiotics when no longer needed may increase antibiotic resistance. The Doctors welcome gastroenterologist Dr. Partha Nandi and infectious disease expert Dr. Brad Spellberg to discuss whether you should stop taking your antibiotics once you are feeling better?

Dr. Nandi calls the decision to stop taking your antibiotics "borderline irresponsible." "Listen to your doctor. If I tell you I want you to take it for 10 days, please believe me... this is a great debate for a medical conference, but my patients should not decide because they can get in real trouble," he says.

Watch: Superbug Outbreak

Dr. Spellberg points to the research available on short course antibiotic therapy, which is usually 5 days long. He says the research shows that the short course version is as effective as long course therapies. He explains this approach involves the patient contacting him if they feel better prior to finishing the antibiotics. "Medicine is a team sport, and I agree patients should not be cut loose to make decisions on their own. They should contact their physician and make a joint decision. But the idea that the way we've always done it [is how we] should keep doing it -- that's the thing that has caused this thing in the first place," he tells The Doctors.

Dr. Nandi says whether it is long-term or short-term, "Listen to your doctor... there's a reason why I give you 5 days or 7 or 10. Please trust me, I'm here to help you, not hurt you," he adds.

Watch: The Dangers of Superbugs

ER physician Dr. Travis Stork concludes calling for more research on this topic. "If you're a patient and you're curious, have the conversation with your doctor," he says suggesting to ask why you need the antibiotic and ask why your doctor is prescribing it for that length of time.