Is it the End for Antibiotics?
Since the 1940s, antibiotics have been available as a form of treatment for bacterial infection, but with increased use, bacteria have become more resistant to medicine. This has some members of the medical community concerned about the potential for a bacterial super bug. In fact, resistance to antibiotics has become a pressing threat to public health. This leads many to wonder, is it the end for antibiotics?
A report issued by the CDC provides a detailed look at antibiotic use in all states in the U. S., finding it highest in Appalachia and in the South. In fact, in West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee, roughly 1,200 prescriptions are written for every 1,000 people. While there is no agreement on proper amounts of prescribed antibiotics, some experts find these statistics alarming.
The CDC is currently tracking up to 20 different strains of resistant bacteria. Because antibiotics have become less effective, infections are harder to treat. Risks for resistance become even greater when antibiotics are not used for the full period of treatment or are taken for the wrong ailments. For instance, colds, some ear infections and upper respiratory infections are caused by viruses.
Unlike bacterial infections, viral infections do not respond to treatment with antibiotics. In fact, the use of antibiotics for viral infection could cause more harm than good. They will not make you feel better or cure your illness. Also, they will not protect others from getting your illness and may cause unwanted side effects.
Many people fail to realize that simple at-home steps can keep germs and viruses at bay as well as bacterial infections. For example, simply taking natural probiotic supplements and a daily multivitamin can help boost your immune system which may help keep you healthy.
It is important to note that antibiotic resistance is also an economic problem. It is more expensive to treat resistant infections, and they may require prolonged use of healthcare personnel, facilities and services. While medical and public health professionals bear the brunt of the responsibility for this problem, the patient is also accountable.
Here are some patient "do's and don'ts" when it comes to antibiotic use.
- Talk with your health care provider about your symptoms and the best treatment for them.
- Take antibiotics for bacterial infections only.
- Take the FULL COURSE of antibiotics if prescribed.
- Ask your doctor or pharmacist about over-the-counter options that may help.
- Increase your intake of fluids.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Try a saline nasal spray or a cool-mist vaporizer for upper respiratory issues.
- Relieve a sore throat with lozenges, spray or ice chips.
- Take a daily multivitamin with natural probiotics to stay healthy
- Take antibiotics for a viral infection.
- Take medicine that has been prescribed for someone else.
If the antibiotic problem isn't solved, there may come a day when an infected cut could be life threatening. Hopefully, medical professionals, public health personnel and patients can work together to find a plan for safe and appropriate antibiotic use and put an end to the "superbug" problem.