Antibiotic Awareness

With our fast paced society nobody has time to be sick. We’ve got to be at 100% as soon as possible. Cold? Sore throat? Your first thought is probably, “I need to get a prescription for an antibiotic.” But before visiting the doctor, you may want to consider how antibiotics can negatively affect the body. 

To understand why antibiotics are not always the answer, it is important to understand how antibiotics work. There are two major types of germs that cause sickness: bacteria and viruses. These germs interact with the body in different pathways and result in an illness. 

Viruses are not living. They cannot exist on their own, and are only harmful after they have invaded other living cells. The body’s immune system can fight off most viruses before they cause illness. Then there are some viruses, colds for example, that just need time to run their course. It is very important to know that antibiotics simple have no power over viruses. 

Bacteria on the other hand are living organisms, they are everywhere, including the gut. In some cases bacteria can be harmful and invade the human body and cause illness. This is when antibiotics are used to fight the growth and reproduction of harmful bacteria. However, it is important to note that many bacterial infections can get better without antibiotics. For example, most sinus and ear infections. 

Antibiotics work by killing bacteria in the body; that is all bacteria, bad or good. They can’t differentiate between the healthy and bad. Due to the general killing nature of antibiotics, repetitive use deprives our gut bacteria of diversity. Diversity of gut bacteria is the backbone of not only healthy digestion but numerous other factors in the body as well. When antibiotic use is necessary you should try to consume them with a probiotic supplement or probiotic containing food such as kefir yogurt. On top of that, it is important to take antibiotics responsibly. It is very tempting as soon as you are feeling better to stop taking your antibiotic, but the full treatment may be necessary to avoid a relapse.

The overuse of antibiotics, especially when they are taken for inappropriate treatment such as with viruses, promotes antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic resistance happens when a specific strain of bacteria survives an antibiotic prescription, and it is passed on and multiplied. Up until recently, the introduction of new antibiotics outpaced the development of antibiotic resistance. However, recently the pace of medication resistance has increased to a whopping 2 million infections resulted from antibiotic-resistant bacteria. 

To often we are taking antibiotics for unnecessary or inappropriate use only for us to harm our natural bacteria. Common viral infections where we find ourself using an antibiotic prescription include:

  • Cold 
  • Flu (influenza)
  • Bronchitis
  • Most coughs
  • Some sinus infections
  • Stomach flu

Now of course, antibiotics really do save lives. When a patient needs antibiotics the benefits usually outweigh the risk. However, when antibiotics are not needed the side effects could cause harm. Next time when you are calling that prescription in, talk with your doctor a bit more.


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