Antibiotics: To Prescribe or Not Prescribe?
You are sick and feel miserable. So you go to your doctor for antibiotics to kill what ails you. But instead, your doctor takes a different treatment route that does not include prescribing antibiotics. So why won’t your doctor give you antibiotics? Sometimes drugs can be more harmful than helpful.
When Medicine Meets ResistanceMany things can give you an infectious illness, such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, or other microorganisms. The most commonly prescribed antibiotics only work against bacteria. Therefore, they will not be helpful if a virus or other microorganism causes your condition. When prescribed appropriately and taken correctly, antibiotics can be very effective. They can shorten the time you are sick and keep the disease from spreading to others. Perhaps because they seem so effective, doctors may have a tendency to prescribe them too often, even when there is not anything for them to treat or you would have gotten better just as quickly without them. Over time, many bacteria adapt to resist antibiotics, making these medications less effective or unable to work at all. This occurs even in bacteria not responsible for the illness that just live in your body.Antibiotic resistance is harmful. As more antibiotics are introduced into our environment, by either over-prescribing or entering our food chain through their use in the dairy, poultry, and livestock industries, more strains of bacteria have the potential to become resistant. Some strains of bacteria that are already resistant to antibiotics include:
- Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)—These dangerous bacteria can cause infections in areas such as the lungs, skin, blood, and bones.
- Multi-drug resistant Klebsiella—These bacteria can cause pneumonia, bloodstream infections, and urinary tract infections (UTIs).
- Multi-drug resistant Escherichia coli— These bacteria can cause digestive system infections, bloodstream infections, and UTIs.