Antibiotics are a special class of drugs which deserve special care and respect. If the junkie down the street misuses heroin or oxycodone, it does not affect me. On the other hand, if one of my neighbors misuses antibiotics, it can create serious negative consequences for the entire world.
Bacteria evolve very quickly and one of the most successful evolutionary changes for a species of bacteria is to develop resistance to antibiotics. Bacteria are able to develop resistance when they come into contact with an antibiotic, but are not killed by the antibiotic. The classic case for this happening is when a person starts taking an antibiotic, begins to feel better, and then stops taking the antibiotic. The remaining bacteria which have not been killed off yet can develop resistance to the antibiotic which was used against them.
Many bacteria are now resistant to some antibiotics, and a few bacteria are resistant to all known antibiotics. There is no known treatment for these bacteria and becoming infected with one can be a death sentence. Clearly, misusing antibiotics can have significant social consequences.
On the other hand, this risk does not mean that we should never use antibiotics. Like most other technological advances, antibiotics are extremely valuable when used properly.
Some people will say that you should only use antibiotics under the supervision of a doctor. This advice, while seeming reasonable, is not sensible in a survival situation. When civilization falls apart, you may not be able to reach a doctor. Luckily, the proper use of all common antibiotics is well documented. Any reasonable person can follow simple instructions to prevent creating antibiotic resistant bacteria.
Antibiotics are difficult to obtain in the United States because they are available via prescription only.
It is also possible to obtain antibiotics which you can use from animal supply stores, pet stores, and veterinarians. Animals use most of the same antibiotics as humans, but antibiotics which are intended for animal use can be purchased without a prescription.
Antibiotics are difficult to stockpile because many have fairly short shelf-lives. Be certain to know the dates of every antibiotic in your inventory.
The shelf-life of most antibiotics can be maximized by storing them in cool dry locations.
There are many different families of antibiotics and each family generally has several members. Each antibiotic has it’s strengths and weaknesses and you should be familiar with both before you put a pill into your body. This is true whether you bought the pill in Mexico or if you received it directly from the hand of your family doctor.
Tinidazole, for example, is best against protozoan infections. Lincosamides like Clindamycin and Lincomycin are best against staph, strep, and pneumonia. Telithromycin, a Macrolide, is also good against pneumonia. Other Macrolides, such as Azithromycin, Clarithromycin, Dirithromycin, Erythromycin, Roxithromycin, and Troleandomycin are effective against staph, strep, and lyme disease. The Macrolide Spectinomycin is used to treat gonorrhea. The basic rule is to study the properties of every antibiotic you have on hand. You don’t need to know every antibiotic, but you do need to know everything about the antibiotics you put into your body.
Every antibiotic will have some side effects. The most dangerous antibiotics are members of the Penicillin and Sulfa families. Some people will have life threatening allergic reactions to these antibiotics. Don’t take an antibiotic from the Penicillin or Sulfa families unless you have professional medical staff standing by or you know that you are not allergic to them.