Antibiotics: Three Strikes, You’re Out
By Dr. Myatt
Antibiotics are powerful medicines that fight bacterial infections. Used properly, antibiotics can save lives. They either kill bacteria outright or keep them from reproducing. Your body’s natural defenses can usually take it from there.
Antibiotics do not fight infections caused by viruses, such as colds, flu, most coughs, bronchitis, most sinus infections and sore throats (unless caused by strep).
If a virus is making you sick, taking antibiotics may do more harm than good. Each time you take antibiotics, you increase the chances that bacteria in your body will be able to resist them. Later, you could get or spread an infection that those antibiotics cannot cure.
Antibiotic-fed hormone-raised meat is another source of antibiotic exposure.
Meet Some of the “Super-Bugs”: Potentially Lethal Gang-Banger Bacteria So Bad They Defy Antibiotic Treatment
“Super Bugs” — lethal bacteria that are antibiotic-resistant — are increasing at an alarming rate. Bacteria-halting antibiotics which used to be “wonder drugs” are all but powerless against these new Bad Boys.
MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) is a bacteria that has gone from a “controllable nuisance” to a serious public health threat.
One percent of all hospital stays, or 292,045 per year, are associated with MRSA. MRSA accounts for some 14,000 deaths per year.
Symptoms of MRSA can include sepsis (blood poisoning), cellulitis, Infection of the heart valves (endocarditis),
Pneumonia, Toxic shock syndrome, Organ failure and death.
VRE (Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococci) caused about one of every three infections in hospital intensive-care units in 2004 according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Infection with VRE can cause fever, urinary tract infections, sepsis (blood poisoning) and infection of surgical sites.
C-Diff (clostridium difficile) occurs when competing good gut flora are wiped out by antibiotics. The current Hospital infection rate for this bug is 25% higher than for MRSA.
C-diff include attacks the lining of the large intestine, damaging the colon and producing toxins. Symptoms of C-diff include watery diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain and cramping (often severe), nausea with or without vomiting, and weight loss. C-diff can also lead to pseudomembranous colitis (areas of infection and pus pockets in the bowel) and bowel perforation.
C-diff is one of the most common hospital-acquired infections. It is resistant to most antibiotics.
What’s My Point?
Over-use and misuse of antibiotics has resulted in antibiotic-resistant “Super Bugs” that can cause serious infections and even death. Much of this resistance is avoidable.
Here are some protective steps you can take.
1.) Take antibiotics judiciously. Many doctors will prescribe antibiotics when they are not necessary because they believe the patient wants to take them.
I’ve had conversations like this at medical conferences:
They, “Do you prescribe antibiotics for colds?”
Me, “no, do you?”
They, “Because patients think they need them and if I don’t prescribe them, they will go to another doctor to get them.”
In other words, docs hand these out to please you (placebo) even when they are unnecessary.
So… stop playing doctor and demanding antibiotics for every sniffle, cough and even sinus infections. (most sinus infections are caused by fungi, not bacteria). Read Nurse Mark’s HealthBeat News article I Feel A cold Coming On – Better Get An Antibiotic! Ask your doctor, “Do I really need to take an antibiotic?” If you don’t sound like you are pressing for one, your doctor will probably level with you and say, “no, you don’t really need one for this condition. It is probably not a bacteria infection.”
2.) Strengthen your immune system. I like formulas such as my Immune Support.
A good multiple vitamin/mineral formula contains immune-enhancing nutrients including vit. C, beta carotene, zinc, and selenium.
3.) Use natural antibiotics as a “first choice” for non-bacterial infections and mild bacterial problems. Save the “big guns” antibiotics for big problems and they are more likely to serve you well.
4.) Eat antibiotic-free and hormone-free meat. This costs a little more but the health (and taste!) benefits are worth the money. How can you put a price-tag on your good health?
Finally, enjoy the HealthBeat News article we wrote about antibiotics and the rise of superbugs some time ago: Antibiotics For Everything! A pill For Every Ill!
Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. Antibiotic Resistance and the Threat to Public Health. Committee on Energy and Commerce
Subcommittee on Health United States House of Representatives,
Wednesday, April 28, 2010. [overuse of human and animal antibiotics]
Hadley J. Sharp, BS; David Denman, MD; Susan Puumala, MS; Donald A. Leopold, MD. Treatment of Acute and Chronic Rhinosinusitis in the United States, 1999-2002. Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2007;133(3):260-265. [most sinus infections not bacterial]
L. Clifford McDonald, Matthew J. Kuehnert, Fred C. Tenover, and William R. Jarvis. Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococci Outside the Health-Care Setting: Prevalence, Sources, and Public Health Implications.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia.Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vol. 3, Issue 3, July-Sept 1997.
Janet M. Torpy; Cassio Lynm; Richard M. Glass. Clostridium difficile Colitis. JAMA. 2009;301(9):988 (doi:10.1001/jama.301.9.988).
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