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Antibiotic Overuse: Do You Really Need Them?

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Antibiotics are extremely powerful drugs, and when prescribed and taken correctly, can provide symptom relief and expedite healing.

However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 30 percent of antibiotic courses prescribed in an outpatient setting are unnecessary.

So, before you request an antibiotic or assume that it’s a cure-all, ask “Do you really need them?”

Continue reading to learn all about antibiotic overuse and the dangers of taking them unnecessarily.

What Are Antibiotics?

Antibiotics are prescription medications that are designed to target and destroy specific bacteria. In doing so, they prevent bacteria from multiplying and can effectively treat a number of infections.

What Conditions Can Antibiotics Treat?

It’s important to understand that antibiotics can only address bacterial infections and not viral infections, which are caused by different microorganisms.

Therefore, before you determine that your symptoms warrant an antibiotic and request a prescription from your provider, consider whether or not they are caused by bacteria or a virus.

Several common bacterial infections that can be successfully treated with antibiotics include:

Some urinary tract infections, bladder, and kidney infections; strep throat; some ear and sinus infections, bacterial pneumonia, and meningitis.

How Can Antibiotic Overuse be Harmful?

Because antibiotics are so effective in eradicating harmful bacteria and helping us feel better, we’d like to assume that they can help us recover more quickly from any illness. Nevertheless, antibiotics are either meant to eliminate a specific type of bacteria or broad-spectrum of bacteria.

That being said, when antibiotics kill targeted bacteria, resistant bacteria can grow and multiply. Accordingly, antibiotic overuse can increase the level of drug-resistant bacteria and promote the development of dangerous superbugs and antibiotic-resistant infections.

What’s more, when a person tries to treat a viral infection with antibiotics, the drugs can actually attack good bacteria in the body.

What Conditions Shouldn’t be Treated with Antibiotics?

The following viral infections will not respond to antibiotic treatments and can actually have significant health consequences:

Colds, flu, most sore throats, some ear infections, some sinus infections, stomach viruses, and viral respiratory infections.

A skilled diagnostician like Dr. Bruce Rashbaum can thoroughly assess your symptoms, perform an examination, and order appropriate tests to determine the origin of your infection and recommended the most effective and safest course of treatment.

To schedule an appointment with him, please contact our office today.

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