The worry surrounding antibiotic resistant bacteria is one that has continued to grow, with many scientists and researching believing antibiotics are often overprescribed. Martin Llewelyn, a professor of infectious diseases at Brighton and Sussex Medical School, believes that completing the fully course of antibiotics, even after a patient's sympotoms begin to dissapate, could also be doing more harm than good.
According to The Guardian "in an analysis in the British Medical Journal, the experts say 'the idea that stopping anitbiotic treatment early encourages antibiotic resistance is not supported by evidence, while taking antibiotics for longer than necessary increases the risk of resistance.'"
While there are some exceptions to this rule - like tuberculosis for example - "most of the bacteria that cause people to become ill are found on everybody's hands in the community, causing no harm.... People fall ill only when the bug gets into the bloodstream or the gut. The longer the bacteria are exposed to antibiotics, the more likely it is that resistance will develop." Because there are a number of factors that contribute to an individual's reaction to antibiotics, including the strength of a person's immune system and their previous reaction to antibiotics, how long they should continue to take the medication varies.
The analysis calls for research to examine the impact stopping antibiotics once the patient stops experiencing symptoms would have.