Are Antibiotics Necessary for your illness? Not always, says the United States Centers for Disease Control, also called the CDC. In fact, they even admit that one-third to one-half of all antibiotics prescribed in hospitals is done unnecessarily. 1. And this in HOSPITALS where we believe patients are well-cared for and that the round-the-clock nursing care would lessen problems such as this.
Obviously, it hasn’t, and the overuse of antibiotics is a serious problem. Another way to look at ‘unnecessary’ antibiotic use is to call it by it’s real name… ‘inappropriate’. Since antibiotic use is supposed to be reserved for confirmed bacterial infections, the only infections that antibiotics work for, any prescribing of antibiotics outside of a confirmed bacterial infection is considered inappropriate.
The Problem With Inappropriate Antibiotic Use
But who cares? So what if someone gets an antibiotic who doesn’t need it? Why is that a problem? One problem is growing antibiotic resistance. Antibiotics changed the entire landscape of how illnesses are treated, and they have saved millions, if not billions of people around the world. But there are only a limited number of antibiotics available, and each time an antibiotic is used, bacteria become more and more ‘resistant’ to that antibiotic, learning tricks to survive better and better each time an antibiotic is used until those bugs become completely ‘immune’ to a particular antibiotic.
This phenomenon is called ‘antibiotic resistance’ and it’s a serious problem, giving rise to ‘superbugs’ that antibiotics don’t work on. Some of these ‘bugs’ are infections like Methicillin Resistant Staph Aureus, also known as MRSA, that are becoming more and more common and more and more difficult to treat.
Worldwide, it is estimated that half of all medicines are inappropriately prescribed, dispensed or sold…Growing resistance to antimicrobial medicines is a particularly serious challenge in countries at all economic levels, and results largely from inappropriate prescribing and use. The World Medicines Situation
Another problem with inappropriate antibiotic use is that these drugs can have serious side effects. Despite the fact that doctors hand them out ‘like candy’ and that they are even available without a prescription in many places around the world, antibiotics can have serious side effects that can include lifelong disability from conditions like tendon rupture, or serious gastrointestinal diseases such as C-Difficile Diarrhea that kills up to 25,000 people a year.
These drugs should be treated with the utmost respect as effective, but potentially dangerous tools, that should be used only in cases of serious infections where more conservative measures will not or have not worked. Imagine becoming disabled for life because you were given an antibiotic you didn’t even need! That is the reality that occurs every day from the inappropriate use of antibiotics, particularly a class of antibiotics called the Fluoroquinolones, which are both some of the most prescribed antibiotics, and which have some of the most reports of serious health problems and lifelong disability.
Many Illnesses Simply Don’t Need Antibiotics
COLDS DON’T NEED ANTIBIOTICS
So, if one-third to one-half of all antibiotic use in hospitals is done inappropriately, how much more so is it for people who are out of the hospital and just go to clinics or urgent-care centers, often expecting to get a prescription for their illness? In one study, those going to the doctor for an upper respiratory infection, also known as a ‘cold’, got antibiotics inappropriately 50% of the time. And ‘colds’ are not even bacterial infections! Meaning that antibiotics were given simply to give the patient a prescription because that is what they expected to get. They wanted the doctor to ‘do something’, and instead of telling them to rest, drink fluids, and take over-the-counter medicine for symptom relief, the doctors KNOWINGLY gave them medicine that will not work!
And these are people we go to trusting them with our health. They are HIGHLY educated medical professionals that went to school for a minimum of 8 years… only to be KNOWINGLY giving drugs that won’t work up to ONE-HALF the time! That is tragic, and one could even call it malpractice. A doctor’s ‘credo’ is the Hippocratic Oath that says, “First, do no harm”. Yet, they break this oath up to one-half the time they give antibiotics.
SINUS INFECTIONS, URINARY TRACT INFECTIONS, AND TRAVELER’S DIARRHEA
Other studies have shown that illnesses such as Chronic Sinus Infections, an illness that has antibiotics prescribed for it the vast majority of the time, are not even bacterial infections up to 96% of the time 2. That means that those who are paid to be experts in our health are only making the correct choice of drugs only 4% of the time they give antibiotics, in many cases.
In nursing homes, antibiotics are given inappropriately as a Bladder Infection Treatment up to 75% of the time, subjecting these already frail elderly to dangerous antibiotics and even worsening health problems. How many elderly enter a nursing home and end up deteriorating due to the antibiotics they are given and not because of their age or previous health conditions? We’ll never know, but we do know that inappropriate antibiotic use is rampant in nursing homes so that more antibiotics are given unnecessarily than are given appropriately!
In cases of Traveler’s Diarrhea, antibiotics are often given to PREVENT traveler’s diarrhea- an entirely inappropriate use of potentially dangerous antibiotics, meaning that 100% of the time antibiotics are given for this reason, it is inappropriate.
Inappropriate antibiotic use is a serious problem. For everything from colds and flu, to urinary tract infections, prostate and sinus infections that are very often not bacterial in nature, and diarrhea, doctors are committing MEDICAL MALPRACTICE every day prescribing antibiotics inappropriately. Since doctors are not acting as the trained health professionals they are trained and paid to be, it is up to patients to educate themselves on appropriate and inappropriate antibiotic usage and to question any and all antibiotic prescriptions that are given to them in order to determine if they are the best choice or if there are safer alternatives for their specific problem. Doctors have proven themselves to be unreliable as the experts in this aspect of health.
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