Antibiotics might just be the most important discovery in the last hundred years.
They prove to be infinitely valuable at saving lives, staving off infections, and preventing diseases from ever occurring. That’s because we live in an interconnected society with prescriptions and knowledgeable doctors, but what happens when those things fall away?
Survival antibiotics are the fix to a lot of problems, but getting them during a disaster is next to impossible. If a huge-scale SHTF situation strikes, drug stores are going to be raided faster than you can put on your bug out bag.
You need to prepare ahead of time and be stocked up for a few years worth of problems. This is how.
How Antibiotics Changed the World
Antibiotics are less than a hundred years old. This discovery alone is why we are so fortunate to exist in this specific frame of time, because what I’m about to tell you regarding antibiotics might be alarming.
Let’s go back to the Civil War. The most difficult reality of surgeries revolved around the fact that if you were the subject of surgery, the only thing that really fought off infections was your own immune system. That’s why there were such a high number of surgery-related deaths suffering from septic.
Now, antibiotics weren’t around during the Civil War. I’m just using that as a jumping-off point so that you can see how terrible it really was back then. Penicillin was the first antibiotic discovered back in 1928, nearly a century prior to writing this article.
It was an enormous achievement, but it wasn’t until thirteen years later that it was actually applied in 1941.
Albert Alexander, a police officer, was wounded on February 12th, 1941 by something so insignificant: a rose bush thorn scratching his face. (Some historical information seems to dictate that the first use was on March 14th, 1942.)
Even a Simple Scratch in the Wild Can Lead to Infection
One scratch that’s deep enough is all it takes for harmful bacteria to enter your bloodstream. We feel safe in our clean homes and our 99.9%-germ-killing sanitizers and soaps, but even in our current society, there are still risks for infection from bacterial diseases.
There’s a reason that your mother or father always put a band-aid on you, even when the scratch seemed small.
If one simple scratch is deep enough, say against the edge of a coffee table, any bacteria that was persistent on that table’s edge can transfer to your skin during the time of injury. With an open cut or scratch, it now has a clear, streamlined path straight to your bloodstream.
Antibiotic topical applications help to create a bacteria-killing seal around a wound to prevent it from getting in your bloodstream in the first place, but once it’s in your blood, traditional antibiotics (ingestible) will be your next line of defense.
Most Concerning Bacteria and Fungi
Bacteria and fungi can work together; as a matter of fact, there are a lot of instances where they work together and feed off of one another. Where you can find one, you can absolutely expect to find another.
This is something that we barely have to worry about anymore thanks to modern medicine and food preparation guidelines, but listeria still exists, and it can be serious.
Listeria infections rarely end up being fatal, but for pregnant women, it can travel from the gut throughout the rest of your body and cause more complications.
There are so many strands of E. coli, and while many of them can actually be harmless (considering that you’ve probably ingested them in the past), there are strands that can cause serious problems.
Standard issues include diarrhea, nausea, and other common symptoms. Serious problems include respiratory illness, pneumonia, and urinary tract infections.
Anything that can make you vomit and simultaneously causes diarrhea is something you don’t want to mess with. Norovirus is that bug you hear about that breaks out on cruise ships; it’s contagious, it can be contracted through touch on occasions, and it is widely treatable.
The issue is that in a survival situation, you may not have the right conditions required to help your body through the process.
Normally born from a lack of thorough cooking of poultry, salmonella can be serious depending on the severity. It’s estimated that many people have actually contracted salmonella throughout their lives, but brushed it off as simply being sick.
Salmonella leads to nausea, vomiting, but most prominent: diarrhea. You can recover from salmonella on your own, but it may actually get bad enough that you become dangerously dehydrated to the point of requiring medical attention.
This one is a fungus that’s still labeled as one of the most concerning, despite the fact that you could be breathing it in right now. Those with weakened immune systems or lung issues will particularly suffer from its effects.
This is a common enough spore, but it’s still powerful enough to cause lung infections in weakened immune systems. If you’re overtired and not sleeping, well, you gain most of your immune system through consistent sleep, so even without preexisting conditions you’re still at-risk.
You may know this more commonly as thrush. However, if thrush, or candida, actually enters your bloodstream, it can lead to candidiasis.
While this is not labeled as a lethal disease, any fungal infection, if left unchecked, can cause serious life-threatening illness.
This spore affects the lungs. Once inside the body, it will begin to let off spores that can cause illnesses, although this fungi does not directly cause an illness.
It can be in your body for a long time before causing any issues or becoming noticeable.
What Type of Antibiotics Should You Carry?
There are a total of eight antibiotics that I’m going to recommend. Let’s separate them by critical versus situational.
These three critical antibiotics can be used to treat 90% of all infections you will face, but obviously, they’re not everything.
- Cephalexin: As the most important miracle antibiotic in your arsenal, this is great for just about every type of respiratory infection you may encounter. Winter survival will be rough without this. This is also known to cure ear infections, and is safe for women and children to take, although there are some mild side effects.
- Ciprofloxacin: Urinary tract infections, respiratory infections, and even severe poisoning like anthrax can all be assisted or cured with ciprofloxacin. This is also known to treat infectious colitis. This should not be taken by pregnant women or children under any circumstances.
- Metronidazole: Intestinal issues could be a life or death situation, especially in the wilderness. This removes anaerobic bacteria in your intestines, while also treating bacteria found in bone infections, lung infections, brain infections, and other serious issues. Under no circumstances should children or pregnant woman take this antibiotic.
- Erythromycin: Treats respiratory infections, ear infections, lyme disease, chlamydia, syphilis. Is entirely safe for women and children to use.
- Amoxicillin: Treats bacteria similar to cephalexin. One of the most widely-prescribed antibiotics on the market for numerous bacterial infections and illness treatments.
- SMZ-TMP: Treats respiratory infections and urinary tract infections. Treats staph infections to a certain degree depending on how fast you get to it.
- Azithromycin: Treats respiratory infections, chlamydia, lyme disease, typhoid, syphilis and PID. Will cause side effects.
- Doxycycline: Similar to erythromycin, this treats sinus infections, it can treat respiratory infections, and typhus malaria. This is a fish antibiotic that is not labeled for human consumption, so take this at your own risk, but you can find hundreds of anecdotes online of people using these safely.
Check With Your Doctor
Some people can be resistant to certain types of antibiotics. Some antibiotics you buy on the shelf may have recently become ineffective against certain bacteria. You may have allergies that you don’t know about.
It’s a good idea to check with your doctor before deciding to carry any of the antibiotics mentioned above.
Some allergies to antibiotics can be so severe that they cause anaphylactic shock, and in the middle of nowhere in an SHTF situation, you’re not coming back from that. Anaphylactic shock can kill you in a matter of mere minutes.
Blood tests and allergy panels will confirm or deny suspected antibiotic allergies you may have. If you previously had these done, you should consider going again. While the seven-year allergy myth is a load of BS, we can develop allergies based on environments and experiences.
Antibiotics are a fairly new invention in the grand scheme of things. We’re still figuring out ways to make them stronger, but until then, we have to deal with this harsh part of reality.
Your antibiotics might have germs developed to work against them in the not-so-distant future, rendering them useless. It’s impossible to tell which germs are adapting to antibiotic use.
It’s not a little problem, either: the DCD states that 35,000 people in the United States die from antibiotic resistant infections every single year, a small amount compared to the 2.8 million who are infected (nearly 7,700 people per day).
While that’s around 0.8% of the population, that number still exists in one of the most medically advanced countries in the world. Imagine what would happen if we weren’t that great at developing medicines and vaccines.
There are new antibiotic germs found all the time. We’ve found resistant germs that pose the potential to bring back gonorrhea-related fatalities, pneumonia-related deaths, and more.
Antibiotic resistance is never more than a single step behind all of society, which is why it’s important to research the antibiotics you’re packing for your bug out bag every three to six months. Ensure that they’re still effective, or upgrade your stock.
Can Fungal Infections be Treated by Antibiotics?
Have you ever wondered why there are so many types of mushrooms that we can eat, but few that will make us stick or potentially kill us?
That’s because out of the millions of fungi that exist, there are only a few hundred that can make us sick.
Mushrooms are visible, edible fungi that we can see, smell, and though, but most fungi are so small that they can’t be seen with the naked eye. Fungal infections are different from bacterial infections, and are resistant to antibiotics.
Fungal infections can be born from fungi growing on a surface, or a fungi spore (which acts like a coating powder).
It’s incredibly easy to develop fungal infections from warm, moist areas, which could either be the inside of your shoes, a damp jacket in the winter, and plenty of other spots that are common with surviving (especially in the winter, which is when you may need antibiotics the most).
Antibiotics do not help with fungal infections at all. These need to be treated differently. There are topical antifungal drugs as well as pills that can help with fungal infections. The biggest issue is that when a fungal infection enters your body, it assaults everything.
A fungal infection can spread from a topical area to your tissue, and from the tissue to your bloodstream, and from there to your vital organs. Fungal infections have similar risks and symptoms to bacterial infections, which is why it can be hard to detect.
Antibiotics won’t harm your chances of recovering from fungal infections, but they won’t help you, either. In a SHTF situation, your only real options to get rid of fungal infections is to seek out emergency medical aid if you do not have antifungal medications or topical applications handy.
Antibiotic Care Tips
Your antibiotics could be a literal lifesaver – if you store them properly.
One of the biggest issues with survival antibiotics is not storing them properly and spoiling them; they’ll fail you when you need them most. These are your basic antibiotic care tips to keep them potent and usable from now until you need them.
Store in a Cool, Dry Place
We hear this about everything we buy, but few actually explain why this is important.
If you keep your antibiotics in a bathroom medicine cabinet, or somewhere in the kitchen, the fluctuations in heat and humidity (showers, steam from hot water, cooking, etc.) can pose a serious threat to your antibiotics.
Moisture can expedite the encroaching expiration date on your bottle, or make them less potent and effective when you need them most.
Original Containers Only
It’s recommended by manufacturers and specialists that medications be kept in their original container. It’s sterile, it preserves more liquid volumes, and doesn’t mix up medicines and labels.
On top of that, most modern medicine bottles block light, so you don’t run the risk of capsule degradation from ultraviolet rays.
Remove the Cotton Ball
If you have antibiotic pills with cotton balls stored inside, remove them immediately.
The previous point about original containers still stands, but cotton actually draws humidity into the bottle. Get rid of it, put the original cap back on, and store it accordingly.
Store in a Locked Box
Well, a box that’s hard to open at the very least. I don’t care what anyone says; pill bottles are not child-safe.
They’re just aggravating to open. Kids are smart and they will get into these if you leave them unattended. Get a metal box with a padlock if you have to, just don’t leave these in easily accessible areas.
You obviously won’t have one of these handy in a survival situation, but during in-home storage, you should absolutely have one of these handy. Make sure it’s present in whatever area you’re storing your antibiotics to keep humidity down.
Doing this preserves the amount of time you have in a backpack; it’s like starting off the journey with freshly-made medicine instead of drugs that have had years to degrade in less-than-ideal conditions.
Avoid Using Damaged Medicine
If you have zero options, and all that’s left is one antibiotic pill that happens to be damaged, I would personally take my chance on the pill.
The main reason this tip goes on the list is because damaged pills can lose potency, or become unsafe. Do this at your own risk: you should always try to discard broken pills rather than consume them.
Your Best Chance of Getting Out Alive
We always talk about preparing against threats like home invasion, natural disasters, power grid failures, attacks and EMPs, but we don’t talk often enough about just how dangerous bacteria and viruses are because it’s not an “active threat”.
In the wilderness, you’re going to make mistakes. You will slip when using a sharp survival shovel, you will get cut from a thorny bush, things will happen. Antibiotics are your insurance against the repercussions from those problems.
If your bug out bag is designed to help you live in the wilderness for years, you have to make sure that you’re going to last that long. Survival antibiotics are a necessary, case and point.