Antibiotics Are Not Always the Answer

No one wants to be sick. When people feel sick, they want to get better fast. Many people complain that they went to their doctor when they were feeling really sick and the doctor didn’t give them an antibiotic… and they were disappointed. But antibiotics aren’t the answer for every illness.

What’s the harm in taking too many antibiotics?

Using antibiotics (also known as antibacterials) when they are not necessary can result in some bacteria becoming resistant to the antibiotic. When this happens, these resistant bacteria become stronger and are harder to kill. They can stay in your body for very long periods of time and can cause severe and debilitating illnesses that cannot be cured with the standard antibiotic medicines. When these antibiotic-resistant bacteria cause an infection, the patient may require hospitalization and intravenous treatment with a much more potent drug. At times, even with the proper medication, these infections can be fatal. Thousands of patients die each year from antibiotic-resistant infections. Don’t be one of them!

How to Reduce Your Risk

To reduce your risk for getting an antibiotic-resistant infection, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) out of Atlanta, Georgia, recommends that you avoid taking unnecessary antibiotics. So when your doctor tells you that you don’t need an antibiotic, be grateful. And when s/he does prescribe an antibiotic, be sure to take it as directed and finish the entire prescription. If you don’t finish all of the medication, you will not get rid of the infection. And this will increase your risk of developing an antibiotic-resistant infection later on.

What Causes Most Infections?

Most infections are caused by two kinds of disease-causing organisms: bacteria and viruses. Antibiotics can cure bacterial infections, but not viral ones. Bacterial infections include strept throat, pneumonia, sinus infections, and ear infections, to name a few. They are generally not contagious, but they can make you very sick and even kill you. If you don’t finish the entire treatment of antibiotics prescribed for you by your doctor, the bacteria can raise their ugly heads again later on in the form of an antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Viral infections, such as the common cold, chicken pox, or the flu, will usually run their course, making you quite ill before you feel better. A person with a healthy immune system will generally get better on their own over a 5-7 day period. Persons with compromised immune systems may not recover. Antibiotics are not effective against viruses. If you take an antibiotic when you have a virus, you will not feel better, you will not cure your infection, and you will not keep others from catching what you have. In addition, you will be wasting your money and increasing your risk of getting an antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection later on. There may be times when you have a virus and your health care provider will prescribe an antibiotic. This would happen if your provider felt there was a risk of your getting a secondary bacterial infection as a result of your viral illness.

The most important thing is to always discuss with your provider what other treatments are available to treat your symptoms.

” Antibiotics ” – 4:25 minutes

” Snort, Sniffle, Sneeze…No Antibiotics Please! ” – 3:48 minutes

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