The Problem with Antibiotics

There are many types of antibiotics. The most commonly used antibiotics treat bacterial infections.  Penicillin was discovered in 1928.  It was first used on a patient in 1941.  It was mass produced by the end of World War II.  There are now dozens of antibiotics on the market.  These drugs have reduced illness and death from infectious diseases.  However, bacteria have adapted resulting in these drugs becoming less effective.

These antibacterials medicines do not work on all infections. They treat bacteria but not viral infections.  Common viral infections are colds, influenza, bronchitis, and most sore throats and sinus infections.

Overuse of antibiotics contributes to more serious drug-resistant bacteria. The CDC estimates that 23,000 people in this country die yearly from antibiotic-resistant bacteria.  Reasons for overuse include pressure on healthcare providers to prescribe these drugs, patients using leftover antibiotics, and patients using antibiotics purchased overseas.

What can we do? Do not expect antibiotics to cure every illness.  Please do not pressure your provider to prescribe an antibiotic.  Most colds and coughs will take two weeks or longer to resolve.  Complete the entire course when an antibiotic is prescribed,.  Also, never take someone else’s medication.

 

Dr. Matthew Peters, MD

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