With the recent news discussing the superbug that may not be killed by the antibiotics currently on the market, there has been a lot of discussion surrounding the overuse of antibiotics.
Every year, your family may share of colds, sore throats, and other viruses as they cycle through society. When you visit the doctor with these illnesses, do you automatically expect a prescription for antibiotics?
Many people do. And they’re surprised, if they leave the doctor’s office empty-handed — after all, who doesn’t want to get better as quickly as possible? But your doctor could be doing you and your family a favor by not reaching for the prescription pad.
Taking antibiotics for colds and other viral illnesses not only won’t work, but it can also have dangerous side effects — over time, this practice actually helps create bacteria that are harder to kill.
Frequent and inappropriate use of antibiotics can cause bacteria or other microbes to change so antibiotics don’t work against them. This is called bacterial resistance or antibiotic resistance. Treating these resistant bacteria requires higher doses of medicine or stronger antibiotics. Because of antibiotic overuse, certain bacteria have become resistant to even the most powerful antibiotics available today.
Antibiotic resistance is a widespread problem, and one that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calls “one of the world’s most pressing public health problems.” Bacteria that were once highly responsive to antibiotics have become more and more resistant. Among those that are becoming harder to treat are pneumococcal infections (which cause pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, and meningitis), skin infections, and tuberculosis.
In addition to antibiotic resistance, overusing antibiotics can lead to other problems. Antibiotics kill many different bacteria, even the good ones that help keep the body healthy. Sometimes taking antibiotics can cause a person to develop diarrhea due to a lack of good bacteria that help digest food properly. In some cases, bad bacteria, like Clostridium difficile (or C diff), may overgrow and cause infections.
Talk to your doctor about antibiotic use. And remember your doctor will only prescribe them if they are needed.
Tags: antibiotic, antibiotic overuse, antibiotics, super bug