Have you ever coerced your doctor into prescribing an antibiotic?

I used to. I stopped. Here’s why.

Like many people I know I also stockpiled antibiotics thinking I knew when to call my physician and get his approval or would infrequently simply start myself on an antibiotic regimen. ZPack for an upper respiratory infection. Augmentin for a sinus infection. Cipro for a prostate discomfort. Doxycycline for Lyme disease.

Here’s the chain of antibiotic abuse and its consequences.

“You’re sick. You’re not sure what it is, but you know you would really love for this achy feeling, stuffed-up head or painful cough to go away. So you go to the doctor and demand drugs.If recent research is any indication, your physician will probably prescribe you an antibiotic, even if he or she knows it won’t make you better any faster.” (A)

“Antibiotic agents don’t work for viral infections and should not be prescribed. However, it is often easier to write a prescription than to explain to a patient why you won’t. I have had patients leave my office very angry and immediately go to another doctor to get the antibiotics that I have declined to give.” (B)

“Antibiotic use promotes development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Every time a person takes antibiotics, sensitive bacteria are killed, but resistant germs may be left to grow and multiply. Repeated and improper uses of antibiotics are primary causes of the increase in drug-resistant bacteria. While antibiotics should be used to treat bacterial infections, they are not effective against viral infections like the common cold, most sore throats, and the flu. Widespread use of antibiotics promotes the spread of antibiotic resistance. Smart use of antibiotics is the key to controlling the spread of resistance.” (C)

“Antibiotic resistance is highly problematic because it severely hinders our ability to treat infectious diseases. In addition, surgery is dependent on the administration of antibiotics before and after the operation. Cancer patients and patients who have received organ transplants rely on antibiotics to protect them from bacteria, as the former have compromised immune systems while the latter needs to suppress their immune systems from attacking the transplanted organs.Without effective antibiotics, basic medical procedures and surgical operations could become very high risk because there’s a much higher risk the patient could be infected with an antibiotic microbe and be without appropriate treatment while recovering from the operation.”In addition to causing deaths and preventing basic infectious conditions to be treated, antibiotic and antimicrobial resistance will lead to steeper healthcare costs. Patients will need to spend more time in hospital in order to receive more expensive types of treatment.” (D)

“As drug resistance increases, we will see a number of dangerous and far-reaching consequences. First, common infections like STDs, pneumonia, and “staph” infections will become increasingly difficult to treat, and in extreme cases these infections may require hospitalization or treatment with expensive and toxic second-line therapies…. Health care providers are increasingly encountering highly resistant infections not only in hospitals – where such infections can easily spread between vulnerable patients – but also in outpatient care settings.” (E)

“Any species of bacteria can turn into a superbug. Misusing antibiotics (such as taking them when you don’t need them or not finishing all of your medicine) is the “single leading factor” contributing to this problem, the CDC says. The concern is that eventually doctors will run out of antibiotics to treat them. “What the public should know is that the more antibiotics you’ve taken, the higher your superbug risk …… The more encounters you have with the hospital setting, the higher your superbug risk.” (F)

“For the first time, researchers have found a person in the United States carrying bacteria resistant to antibiotics of last resort, an alarming development that the top U.S. public health official says could mean “the end of the road” for antibiotics.The antibiotic-resistant strain was found last month in the urine of a 49-year-old Pennsylvania woman. Defense Department researchers determined that she carried a strain of E. coli resistant to the antibiotic colistin, according to a study published Thursday in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, a publication of the American Society for Microbiology. The authors wrote that the discovery “heralds the emergence of a truly pan-drug resistant bacteria.” (G)

“Taking antibiotics you do not need will not help you feel better, cure your illness, or keep others from catching your infection. But taking them may cause side effects such as: • Nausea. • Diarrhea. • Stomach pain. •An allergic reaction. In rare cases, this reaction can require emergency care.

Antibiotics also can cause Clostridium difficilecolitis (also called C. difficilecolitis), a swelling and irritation of the large intestine, or colon camera.gif. This happens because the antibiotics kill the normal bacteria in your intestine and allow the C. difficile bacteria to grow. This problem can cause diarrhea, fever, and belly cramps. In rare cases, it can cause death. Women may get vaginal yeast infections from taking antibiotics.” (H)

Final Note

“When an antibiotic is prescribed, it is wise to ask what the drug is and whether it is necessary, what side effects to be alert for, whether there are effective alternatives, when to expect the diagnosed condition to resolve, and when to call if something unexpected happens or recovery seems delayed.” (I)

NOTE: This blog shares general information about understanding and navigating the health care system. For specific medical advice about your own problems, issues and options talk to your personal physician.

(A) http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/21/health/antibiotics-virus-bacteria/

(B) https://www.healthtap.com/user_questions/409225-why-would-a-doctor-prescribe-an-antibiotic-for-a-patient-with-viral-pneumonia

(C) http://www.rxlist.com/antibiotic_resistance-page3/drugs-condition.htm

(D) https://www.cbhs.com.au/news/2014/11/24/antibiotic-resistance-causes-and-consequences

(E) http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/up-front/posts/2014/05/22-antibiotic-resistance-fda-phrma-biotech-danielg

(F) http://www.webmd.com/news/20150417/superbugs-what-they-are

(G) https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2016/05/26/the-superbug-that-doctors-have-been-dreading-just-reached-the-u-s/

(H) http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/using-antibiotics-wisely-topic-overview

(I) http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/10/popular-antibiotics-may-carry-serious-side-effects/?_r=0


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