There are many articles on the overuse of antibiotics (a medicine which is used to treat bacterial infections and has no effect on viral infections), however, there is still a huge part of population that does not realize the full extent of this very dangerous habit which creates nothing but more health problems. Some people are so engrossed in consuming antibiotics, which they also like to in high doses, that they find themselves trapped in an endless vicious cycle. They get sick and take antibiotics, they get sick again and take more antibiotics to deal with the sickness that simply would not go away! Not only that, following this endless antibiotics saga other side effects start coming through and some of them are quite severe varying from antibiotics resistance to developing various allergies, etc.
The problem is so acute that many doctors are increasingly campaigning against the antibiotics overuse, especially when it comes to young children. They can easily build up the antibiotics resistance, which will then make it hard to deal with infections (at the time when antibiotics are truly needed!). This is because every single time the antibiotics are used they fight bacteria in your body trying to kill them off without differentiating between good and bad bacteria. However, if pathogenic bacteria survive they come out stronger and more able to resist the next treatment.
Apparently, 30%-50% antibiotics prescriptions are not even necessary. So, stop blindly believing what your prescriptions say and do your research because even doctors do not always know what would be the best way to go about your illness. It is not always easy clinically to determine if you or your child have a viral or bacterial infection, so in a rush to avoid any potential bacterial infections doctors just go ahead and tell you to take antibiotics.
Therefore, it is absolutely important for you to be aware of what’s going on, especially, when it comes to your child. When you see your doctor try to be clear regarding symptoms of the illness. Do you homework upfront so that you understand well the difference in symptoms between viral and bacterial infections. Having said that, I don’t suggest that you should decide on our own whether to take antibiotics or not but rather be very vigilant. Some parents are as guilty of overusing antibiotics because they seem to be convinced that this is the best and most efficient way.
When asked, many doctors explain that most of the time it is the patients who insist on getting antibiotics prescribed. Particularly when it comes to the little ones, the parents are so anxious that they keep describing “scary” symptoms to the doctors in the quest to get the prescription for that “wonder drug”. Deep down they believe that antibiotics will speed up their child’s recovery. However, this is so wrong to believe. It has been proven over and over again that viruses cannot be treated by antibiotics and, even in case of earaches – the worst nightmares of parents – one should not hurry to get the antibiotic prescription.
Another important topic, which is not discussed as widely as the antibiotic resistance, relates to the effect of the antibiotic overuse on the immune system. While the “bad” bacteria are under attack, the “good” or “healthy” bacteria on our skin and the inner linings of the gastrointestinal tracts get killed off as well. Our bodies, especially of young children, greatly need these good guys to be able to keep our immune systems intact, but even the small doses of antibiotics can extinguish them. This results in health problems which one would not even think linking to the use of antibiotics: various allergies, eczemas, skin problems, inflammatory bowel disease (IBS), general indigestion, celiac decease, constant colds, food intolerances, yeast infections, and the list goes on and on…
When it comes to serious bacterial infections, antibiotics is the best thing one can have. However, for them to do their job properly, we should be always very careful and patient and let our bodies have a chance to deal on its own with that cold, runny nose, a bit of a cough, etc. And this is really contrary to what we have been led to believe over the past decades.
So what is the best thing to do, especially if you are indeed guilty of the antibiotic habit? Here are important things to remember:
- Use antibiotics only in case of bacterial infections.
- Flues, colds, the majority of coughs, sore throats and some earaches are caused by viruses, so there is no point in using antibiotics.
- Be very clear regarding symptoms when talking to your doctor so that they are able to make the right judgement whether you need an antibiotic treatment and what exactly you need.
- Make sure you consume plenty of fluids and do not rush to bring your body temperature down until really necessary. It is totally OK to have the temperature up to 100 ºF (38 ºC) without taking any medication as this is your body’s natural way of dealing with sicknesses.
- Take good probiotics to keep your immune system strong. It is really important that the probiotics you consume are of sufficient strength.
- Most definitely take strong probiotics if you are undergoing the antibiotic treatment. Or alternatively, you can always have the home-made yoghurt.
- While you have a runny nose, colds, cough, yeast infection – try to limit your dairy intake. This sometimes helps.
- Have lots of rest and sleep to help your body to gather enough strength to fight off the virus.