How do I Determine the Correct Antibiotic Dosage?

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  • Written By: Angie Johnson-Schmit
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 11 November 2019
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The correct antibiotic dosage usually depends on the type of medication, the severity and nature of the bacterial infection, and the age and weight of the person receiving the drug. Using the prescribed amount and completing the entire course of antibiotics are generally considered key elements for successful treatment. Antibiotics are used to treat a range of health issues caused by bacteria, and are not effective against viruses. They are also sometimes prescribed as a preventative measure for people at a high risk of serious bacterial infection. There are several benefits of antibiotics, but there are also some side effects as well as some new strains of bacteria that resist antibiotic treatment.

When a physician calculates an antibiotic dosage, the initial consideration is which medication is the best choice to combat the bacteria. Each antibiotic has general dosage guidelines for children and adults. Most physicians will then take into account the degree of seriousness of the infection as well as the individual’s age, weight, and medical history to arrive at the optimum antibiotic dosage and schedule. Another factor that comes into play is whether the doctor prefers to treat the bacterial illness with the fastest, highest dose possible, or believes that a lower dose over a longer period of time is the best choice.


Completing the course of antibiotics as prescribed is considered an important part of the efficacy of the medication. The reason for following the correct antibiotic dosage within the time frame recommended is relatively straightforward. When someone stops taking the medication early, there is a significant risk that the bacteria will not be completely eliminated and the infection may then reoccur. In these instances, the resulting infection may require a higher antibiotic dosage, and the length of time required to treat the bacterial infection may be longer.

Another issue to consider is the potential side effects of antibiotics. Some common side effects include nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. Other side effects like vaginal yeast infections and fungal infections of the digestive tract and mouth, are usually due to the indiscriminate nature of antibiotics. These medications do not differentiate between beneficial bacteria and the bacteria causing the illness, and will work to kill or inhibit the growth of whatever bacteria are present in the body.

Overuse of antibiotics, or using them incorrectly, is believed to be a major factor in the emergence of drug resistant strains of bacteria. Bacteria such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) have proven extremely difficult to treat and have caused significant problems in hospitals. The course of treatment for the MRSA strains is challenging, as most variants are resistant to all but a few antibiotics.


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