Wed. Oct 20th, 2021

Antibiotics are chemical compounds that can either kill bacteria or inhibit their growth and reproduction. However, over time, the term antibiotics has broadened and is now used by non-medically trained people to refer to any drug that can kill or inhibit the growth of microorganisms such as protozoa and fungi.

To cover a wide range of infections, four SHTF antibiotics for preppers were chosen. Drugs with lower associated risks and adverse effects compared to other popular antibiotics, as well as ease of use and relative ease of acquisition, were considered. Co-amoxiclav, azithromycin, doxycycline, and metronidazole are examples.

Why stock on Antibiotics?

Various infectious diseases were rampant all over the world prior to the discovery and subsequent public use of Penicillin in 1945. At birth, the average life expectancy was 47 years. This is due to communicable diseases, which are the leading cause of death.

Life expectancy at birth in the United States increased to 78.8 years ten years after Penicillin was made available to the public. Communicable diseases became a greater concern for the older, immunocompromised generation.

There may be no pharmaceutical companies to mass-produce medicines and antibiotics if SHTF. These drugs may become scarce. This is especially true given that antibiotics have a finite shelf life.

A common cold, cough, or even a tooth infection is now potentially fatal. Having antibiotics on hand can make or break a person’s survival. Having antibiotics on hand can mean the difference between survival for preppers and death for non-preppers from a treatable disease.

This is why, even on a small scale, prepping should be done to increase the chances of survival when SHTF.

Expiry Dates Explained

Before we get into the list, we need to understand what the expiry date of drugs means. The expiry dates printed on the container or wrapper represent the time frame in which the pharmaceutical company guarantees that the drug is completely effective.

Beyond this, the potency of any drug gradually declines as the active compounds degrade naturally. It can take years for the drug to become completely useless, but improper storage can speed up the process.

Tablets, in general, will last the longest, followed by powder in capsules and powder drug preparations that must be reconstituted. Liquid drugs, both injectable and ingestible, especially those enclosed in a gel capsule, degrade quickly and should be avoided.

Powdered drugs for injection that have been reconstituted have a shelf life of only a few hours, and as little as one hour in refrigeration before losing potency.

Essential Antibiotics when SHTF

  • Amoxicillin + Clavulanic acid aka Co-amoxiclav
  • Azithromycin
  • Doxycycline
  • Metronidazole

Amoxicillin + Clavulanic Acid aka Co-amoxiclav

  • Popular Brand Name/s:  Augmentin
  • Drug Class: Penicillin derived beta-lactam antibiotic
  • Shelf life after expiry date: At least 5 years and can be longer if stored properly.

Contraindication:

  • Penicillin allergy or previous history of jaundice after taking the drug.

Dosing schedule:

  • Mild to moderate infections: 375mg every 8 hours, OR 625mg every 8 to 12 hours, OR 1g every 12 hours for 14 days.
  • Severe infections, recurrent UTI, and pneumonia: 1g every 8 to 12 hours for 14 days.

Available preparations:

  • Tablets: 375mg, 625mg, and 1g.
  • Powder for Injection (needs reconstitution): 600mg, and 1.2g
  • Powder for Oral Suspension: 156.25 mg/5 ml, 312.5 mg/5 ml, and 457 mg/5 ml.

Indication/Uses:

  • UTI
  • Gonorrhea
  • Skin infection
  • Soft-tissue infections (Oral abscess).
  • Sinusitis
  • Tonsillitis
  • Ear infection
  • Bronchitis
  • Pneumonia

Amoxicillin is a highly versatile antibiotic that treats a wide range of infections. However, because beta-lactam drugs have been misused, some bacteria have developed resistance and produce an enzyme that breaks down the drug.

This is where clavulanate/clavulanic acid enters the picture. It deactivates this enzyme, ensuring that the drug’s active compound remains potent. This is why this combination outperforms standard amoxicillin.

Azithromycin

  • Popular Brand Name/s:  Zithromax, Zpack
  • Drug Class: Macrolide antibiotic
  • Shelf life after expiry date: At least 5 years and can be longer if stored properly.

Contraindication:

  • Allergy to azithromycin, erythromycin, or other macrolide antibiotics.
  • Liver disease

Dosing schedule:

  • Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs): 1g (1000mg) single dose
  • PID: 500mg once a day for 2 days, followed by 250mg once a day for 5 more days.
  • Throat infections, uncomplicated skin infections, and pneumonia: 500mg once on Day 1, followed by 250mg once a day up to Day 7 to 10.
  • Sinusitis: 500mg once a day for 3 days.

Available preparations:

  • Tablets: 250mg and 500mg
  • Powder for Oral Suspension: 1g
  • Powder for Injection (needs reconstitution): 500mg/vial

Indication/Uses:

  • Alternative for people with Penicillin allergy
  • Sinusitis
  • Tonsillitis
  • Ear infection
  • Bronchitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Pelvic Inflammatory diseases (PID): infections of the female reproductive organs.
  • UTI
  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • Skin infection
  • Soft-tissue infections.

If you notice that Co-Amoxiclav isn’t working, the next drug of choice for a prepper is azithromycin. It is superior to Clarithromycin, another macrolide drug widely recommended by other prepper websites because it has a longer half-life in the body, which shortens the duration of treatment.

Doxycycline

Popular Brand Name/s: Vibramycin, Monodox, Adoxa, Oracea

Drug Class: Synthetic tetracycline antibiotic

Shelf life after expiry date: At least 5 years and can be longer if stored properly.

Available preparations:

  • Capsule: 50mg, 75mg, 100mg, and 150mg

Indication/Uses:

  • coli diarrhea aka Traveler’s Diarrhea
  • Prophylaxis for Malaria
  • Post-exposure prophylaxis for Anthrax
  • Some lung infections
  • STIs
  • Prophylaxis (to prevent infection) for leptospirosis, a bacterial infection from urine of infected rats/animals
  • Relapsing fevers and louse born illnesses

Contraindication:

  • Allergy to doxycycline, pregnancy and lactating, children <8years except for Anthrax

Dosing schedule:

  • Anthrax post-exposure prophylaxis: 100mg every 12 hours for 60 days
    For skin anthrax, 100mg every 12 hours for 7-10 days, followed by 100mg every 12 hours plus an antibiotic for 2 weeks until clinically stable.
  • Leptospirosis prophylaxis: 200mg once a week for the duration of the stay in a leptospirosis-infected area, and then 200mg on the last day.
  • Louse-borne illnesses: 100 to 200mg once daily
  • Diarrhea prophylaxis: 200mg single dose on the first day of travel, then 100mg once daily for the duration of the stay.
  • Respiratory infections: 100mg twice daily for ten days.
  • STIs: 100mg twice daily for 7 days

Due to the known kidney-damaging effect of expired natural tetracycline antibiotics, there are some misconceptions about the safety of Doxycycline for long-term storage. Doxycycline, on the other hand, is a synthetic tetracycline that lacks the precursor for the kidney-harming compound. As a result, it is extremely unlikely that Doxycycline will become toxic after its expiration date.

Biochemical warfare, including the use of Anthrax, is a possibility if SHTF. An adequate supply of doxycycline can ensure survival when exposed to anthrax.

Metronidazole

Popular Brand Name/s:  Flagyl

Drug Class: Nitroimidazole antibiotic and antiprotozoal

Shelf life after expiry date: At least 4 years and can be longer if stored properly.

Available preparations:

  • Tablets: 250mg and 500mg
  • Capsule: 375mg
  • Intravenous Infusion: 500mg/100ml

Indication/Uses:

  • Deep soft tissue infections
  • Intestinal amoebiasis and other protozoal infections
  • Bacterial Vaginosis (Vaginal itching + discharge)

Contraindication:

  • Allergy to imidazole

Dosing schedule:

  • Deep tissue infections: 1 to 1.5g loading dose, then 500mg to 750mg every 6 hours for 7 to 10 days, or up to 2 to 3 weeks in severe cases.
  • 500mg to 750mg every 8 hours for 5 to 10 days for amoebiasis.
  • Bacterial Vaginosis: single dose of 2g

This is an important drug to have on hand for prepping because, in addition to having antibacterial properties, it also has some effect against protozoal infections, which commonly cause excessive diarrhea.

Antibiotics to Avoid

  • Plain Amoxicillin – Due to the widespread occurrence of penicillin-resistant bacteria, amoxicillin alone has become less effective. This is why the recommended preparation in this list is Co-Amoxiclav (a combination of amoxicillin and clavulanic acid).
  • Fluoroquinolones are antibiotics with the suffix ofloxacin at the end of their names (Ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin, moxifloxacin, etc.). Because of its DNA-damaging effect, this drug class is prohibited in many countries.
  • Natural Antibiotics containing tetracycline are not recommended for storage. When they degrade, they release a toxic compound that causes kidney damage. Doxycycline is a synthetic tetracycline that does not break down into a toxic compound.

Considerations Before Using Antibiotics

All antibiotics, including SHTF antibiotics for preppers, have the potential to cause an adverse drug reaction or severe life-threatening complications. Overdosing can result in toxicity, while underdosing can result in bacteria developing resistance. With these considerations in mind, it is critical to understand when it is appropriate to take an antibiotic and when it is necessary to discontinue it.

Cough, Colds, and Sinusitis

Determine whether the cause of the symptoms is bacterial before starting any antibiotics. Antibiotics have no effect on viruses, and most infections are self-limiting and resolve without the need for antiviral medications.

The most common cause of respiratory tract infections is viral infections. If the symptom lasts less than five days, it is more likely to be viral. Despite this, viral infections frequently pave the way for bacterial infections. As a result, you must be vigilant in monitoring the progression of your symptom.

The colour of the phlegm can also provide a rough indication of the source of the infection. Viral infections produce clear phlegm and nasal secretions, whereas bacterial infections produce green to yellow phlegm in copious amounts.

Another sign to look for is the presence of a fever. A viral infection is typically characterized by a low-grade fever ranging between 99.5° F and 100.3° F. Bacterial infections are frequently accompanied by a high-grade fever of more than 100.4° F. This is not always the case, so you must link the fever to other findings.

Sore Throat

Bacterial infections are frequently localized, as opposed to a virus’s more widespread effect. However, viral infections continue to be the leading cause of sore throats. If you have extreme redness, swelling, or discharge in your throat, inspect it first before using an antibiotic. In addition, determine how long you’ve been experiencing the symptom.

Diarrhea

Diarrhea is defined as having three or more loose watery stools per day. It is our body’s way of eliminating gastric irritants. Normally, a stool sample is sent to the lab to be examined for signs of bacterial or protozoal infections. This may be impossible to do in a SHTF situation.

As a result, we must rely on assessing the duration of diarrhea, the consistency of the stool, and other associated symptoms. Diarrhea that lasts longer than two days and causes severe abdominal pain and discomfort is highly suspect of being caused by a microorganism.

Urination That Hurts

Urinary stones, STIs, and urinary tract infections can all cause painful urination. Before starting an antibiotic, look for signs of STI such as urethral discharge, vaginal discharge, abnormalities on the skin’s surface, and an abnormal odour.

Because of the shorter length of their urethra, women are more likely to develop UTI. UTI is sometimes accompanied by painful, crampy bladder and low back pain.

Infections of the Skin and Soft Tissues

Infected wounds are painful, do not heal, produce purulent discharge, are swollen, and have a reddish border. If the wound is deep and large, Metronidazole should be combined with either Amoxicillin or Azithromycin.

Stop Using Antibiotics

Even if you are feeling well, you should never shorten the duration of antibiotic treatment unless you experience adverse effects. Underdosing keeps some target bacteria alive, which may evolve to become resistant to the previous drug class used.

People with liver or renal disease or dysfunction should not self-medicate with antibiotics in general.

Antibiotics’ Shelf Life Extention

Recent research has found that antibiotics and other medications retain their potency even after they have passed their expiration date. The FDA recently approved the continued storage of an expired Doxycycline stockpile batch. However, improper medication storage undeniably accelerates the deterioration process.

The best way to store medicines is in an airtight container that is kept dry, away from direct sunlight, and in a cool environment or a refrigeration unit. Many tested expired antibiotics and drugs were found to be potent at least 5 years after their expiry dates, and some even suggest that it can remain potent indefinitely.

Unfortunately, reconstituted powdered medicines must be used right away because they degrade quickly even when refrigerated. To store these antibiotics, preppers should have dedicated airtight storage that is kept in a cool place.

By Beth

I'm Beth Nunes, the proprietor of preparing in the city. My family is the most important thing in the world to me. I couldn't bear the thought of my three small children going hungry, so I became obsessed with finding simple and practical ways to be prepared for the future by building food storage and gathering other emergency preparedness items.

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