In the latest news on overuse of antibiotics, the CDC has recently announced that antibiotic resistance could be the next pandemic. (Read more here.) To say that this is terrifying would be an understatement.
Many of you, in fact most of you including me, do not remember a time before antibiotics. It is a miracle drug. They solved many world health problems including the accidental discovery of Penicillin as a cure for influenza. We have begun, however, to take light of the side effects of even the most helpful medicines.
On a daily basis, all of my clinics will receive calls from patients stating that they simply need an antibiotic, some often hoping we will simply call in an Rx to the pharmacy without even examining them.
In this day of fast food and drive-throughs, we have become fixated on a need for quick fixes, whether this is a large diet-coke from McDonalds, a quick meal at Taco Bell, or a quick medicine. I can understand that our culture has become so fast-paced and our work lives have taken over our non-work lives so that we have no time for rest and relaxation. It’s tough to be sick and let your body heal naturally. It’s so much easier to stop by the local convenient care clinic, many of which I help operate, to grab the drugs you feel you need.
In an attempt to appease patients and promote customer service many providers have spent years appeasing these requests, but without understanding of the recourse.
Now, our smartest researchers and scientists are beginning to discover resistance to antibiotics. The very medicine that could once heal us may no longer work because of our insistence to extrapolate it’s use. This very medicine is being pumped in our livestock to appease the FDA and fatten their profits. (Check out this post for more on animal antibiotic use.)
There is no way to point fingers, yes the providers shouldn’t have prescribed the drug inappropriately, but the patients should also quit self-diagnosing bacterial infections when it’s actually viral for which antibiotics will only serve to build up a tolerance to the medicine itself. We need to be more educated on what we’re putting in our bodies, both the food and how it’s raised… (do you think “free range” means antibiotic free?) We need to learn preventative strategies such as proper hygiene and preventative allergy medicines that can help us to better prepare for illnesses that may lead to infection. I have MANY times let myself get bronchitis (double ear infection and sinus infection) because I’ve ignored my daily inhaler and antihistamine use until I’ve allowed myself to get sick.
For more information about antibiotic use and misuse, please peruse the web or use the below links to scholarly articles.