How to navigate the antibiotic highway

As many as 50% of the antibiotics prescribed in the United States may be unnecessary or inappropriate. This contributes to antibiotic resistance, avoidable side effects, and increased cost of care.

Like driving on a multilane highway, using antibiotics appropriately can be complex. But like driving, it’s made easier by following some basic evidence based rules, while unexpected events may intervene to change the route.

this post updated October 28, 2022

stoplight
Most medical experts believe we need to STOP using unnecessary antibiotics. (photo from Pixabay)

As many as 50% of the antibiotics prescribed in the United States may be unnecessary or inappropriate. This contributes to

  • antibiotic resistance ,
  • avoidable side effects of the drugs, and
  • increased medical cost without benefit.

The best source of medical advice for you personally is your own doctor, or one who talks to and examines you.

Exceptions to rules exist, every medical situation is unique.  So although these recommendations are firm, they are not absolute. This is just a partial list which includes most but not all common infections.

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STOP- don’t treat these with antibiotics

Most upper respiratory infections including

Acute viral gastroenteritis, aka stomach flu, with nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea

Some of these may be treated with anti- VIRAL medication, not antibiotics.

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SLOW DOWN- these may not need an antibiotic, at least not immediately

Ear infections -otitis media

Sinusitis– sinus infections

spider or tick bites– many of these are not bites at all, but are other skin diseases, including bacterial infections (see below)

sore throats– pharyngitis or tonsillitis

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GO- these infections usually need antibiotics to resolve successfully

Urinary tract infections- this includes the kidney, bladder, prostate

Skin infections including animal and human bites

Pneumonia (although can can be due to viruses, especially in children)

Whooping cough –pertussis

Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever- these are both transmitted by tick bites; but not all tick bites result in infection

Sexually transmitted diseases caused by bacteria – gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis

Any infection severe enough to require admission to a hospital- including infections of any internal organ, bones, joints, brain; included here are infections which develop during a hospital stay

Check out the links for more info.

(By the way, I hope you enjoyed the photos. I took them at a Veterans Day parade.)

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exploring the HEART of responsible antibotic use

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Get Smart About Antibiotics

Get smart about antibiotics

This week I’m sharing information on the appropriate, medically sound, and safe use of antibiotics. Antibiotics are used to treat serious infectious diseases, but overuse and misuse has made many of them less effective. This is called antibiotic resistance and is a serious worldwide problem.

illness and death due to antibiotic resistance.

How antibiotic resistance develops

National Summary Data, Antibiotic Resistance
National Summary Data, Antibiotic Resistance

“Antibiotics serve an important role in keeping you and your loved ones healthy. But it’s important to remember that antibiotics only treat bacterial infections. Most common infections, such as colds, flu, most sore throats, bronchitis, and many sinus and ear infections, are caused by viruses and do not respond to antibiotic treatment. These infections can be overcome by simply treating the symptoms and letting the illness run its course. ” (info from the CDC)

Listen to a short message about Antibiotics: Miracle Drugs here.

In my next post, I’ll share and discuss 6 Smart Facts About Antibiotic Use.

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