Why antibiotics just won’t do...
Taking antibiotics for VIRAL infections - colds, flu, chest colds, most sore throats (NOT strep), bronchitis, runny nose, and many sinus and ear infections…
- Won’t cure the infection (up to 85% are viral)
- Won’t always make you feel better or fully recover from what you actually have any faster
- Won’t keep everyone else from getting sick
- May initially relieve many symptoms but because the bacteria that protect your health die along with the ones that debilitate you, your insides become a mine-field for the next infection: no immune-building protection happens in a wiped-clean internal environment
- May cause harmful, uncomfortable side effects like nausea or diarrhea. May lead to vaginal yeast infections in women. May reduce the effectiveness of the birth control pill.
- May be transmitted to the fetus during pregnancy.
- May increase the possibility of future antibiotic resistance since some bacteria DO survive the onslaught of antibiotics and those survivors are likely to be RESISTANT-to-whatever-the-given-antibiotic-was survivors. Drug-resistant bacteria have increased power and presence in the competition for the host’s (that’s YOU) resources.
And then when they will do...
In spite of the negatives, antibiotics are extremely effective. They save lives. For infections that require hospitalization - deep wounds and damage into the bones and internal organs - nothing compares. There is no replacement for their effectiveness post-surgery to prevent infections that could lead to sepsis, gangrene, organ failure, even death. The development of antibiotics truly is one of the great breakthroughs in modern medicine.
Enthusiasm for the MIRACLE of the antibiotic cure is MORE THAN DESERVED but I don’t know if there was any pre-emptive consideration for the fact that antibiotics kill ALL bacteria and not just the ones no one wants. Since the body re-populates bacteria and functionally goes back to normal, bounce-back from a single treatment event would have been expected and uncomplicated. And early on in the trajectory of prescribing antibiotics, this was what how it went. Only time could expose the longer-term effects whatever they might be. Time has forced the hand of resistance, too, so that increasingly stronger and stronger antibiotics have been developed. And since they’ve become more powerful medicines, complications and adverse reactions are on the rise. How can we save the miraculous part?
“Antibiotics are lifesaving drugs, and if we continue down the road of inappropriate use we’ll lose the most powerful tool we have to fight life-threatening infections,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “Losing these antibiotics would undermine our ability to treat patients with deadly infections, cancer, provide organ transplants, and save victims of burns and trauma.
A potent warning…
And, truly, a reason to step away from our habit of over-prescribing and over-accepting antibiotics to cure everything everyday.
If your best course is not a doctor’s visit with an antibiotic prescription, what then?
Drugstore over-the-counter cold and flu remedies are one way to fill your medicine cabinet. But not the way I am hoping you will ultimately choose. Alka Seltzer Plus. Vicks Dayquil and Nyquil. Mucinex of every variety. These are medicines that bring drug companies almost 8 billion dollars of sales in one year. Americans make almost 3 billion trips a year to purchase OTC medications and spend about $350 per household per year for them.
The one statistic I love in all of the related statistics to this issue is that 81% of all adults use OTC medicines as their first response to minor ailments and that 70% of parents use them for their children’s sudden and late-at-night onset of symptoms. That’s A LOT of potential users for MY favorites of the TCM /OTC variety. A lot of folks who can make new habits and access better long-term health outcomes!