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Antibiotics: The Effects of Overuse November 7, 2007

Posted by Dreamhealer in Big Pharma.
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Antibiotics, or antimicrobial drugs, are a means of combating infections caused by bacteria. The drugs came into the medical field in the early 1940s and dramatically reduced the illness and death toll from infectious diseases. In that day, they were a miracle. But are they still today?

Over the decades, bacteria controlled by antibiotics have developed a resistance to the drugs and this has become a major concern for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Dr. Richard Besser of the CDC feels there is a need to combat “the whole culture of over- prescribing.”

Are Antibiotics the Answer?

Years ago, antibiotics were the cure for many prevalent bacterial illnesses and this led us as a culture to believe that antibiotics were the cure for everything. Today, people go to the doctor and expect to be given an antibiotic to remedy whatever their ailment.

In cases involving strep throat, some ear and sinus infections, and other common bacterial infections, antibiotics are still usually the effective cure. Common colds and the flu, however, are viruses and antibiotics won’t help.

Common Misconception

According to the Harris Poll, while 89% of Americans are aware that colds and flu are caused by viruses—not bacteria—46% still feel that antibiotics will be effective.

“For many patients, there is a knowledge gap. If we could get people to understand that viruses cause colds and flu, we would go a long way in reducing antibiotic over prescribing,” said Dr. Besser.

The CDC estimates that more than 50 million unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions are written yearly in the United States. Doctors prescribe antibiotics to patients on demand, with the patient thinking it will cure them.

Combating Antibiotic Overuse: What You Can Do

Strides are being taken to combat the overuse of antibiotics, but as a consumer/patient, there are things you can do to help.

There is nothing wrong with seeking the advice of a physician when you feel lousy, but if it is viral, don’t ask for a prescription. Also, make sure before you use an antibiotic that you get all the proper testing to makes sure it is a bacteria infection.

When life throws you a cold, eat chicken soup!

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