We've all taken antibiotics at some point in our lives and we don't usually give it a second thought. If you're sick and you see a doctor, they'll often give you a prescription for antibiotics and then send you on your way. You don't think much of it because the problem clears up and you carry on as normal. However, if you want to protect your health in the long term, you should think twice about the way that you use antibiotics.
Even though they do have their uses and they can be very beneficial, there are some potential dangers, especially if you are using them too often. So, could antibiotics be harming your health?
What Are Antibiotics And How Do They Work?
The term 'antibiotics' covers a wide range of products that are used to treat bacterial infections. They can be synthetic or derived from natural substances. Antibiotics work by either killing the bacteria, stopping its growth or preventing it from spreading any further. This is important because if they don't stop those harmful bacteria from growing, then they will continue to multiply and could potentially spread throughout your body causing more harm than good. When the antibiotics kill off the bacteria, it also leaves space for the good bacteria to grow and flourish.
Different health issues that can be treated using antibiotics include:
- Ear and middle ear infections
- Skin infections
- Kidney infections
When taken to treat these kinds of health issues, antibiotics are incredibly effective. However, there have been problems with overuse of antibiotics in recent years. Doctors often use them as a quick fix and prescribe them without doing enough investigation into the problem. When they are overused, this can cause some serious short and long-term problems.
The Dangers Of Overusing Antibiotics
As well as being incredibly beneficial, there are some very real dangers associated with taking antibiotics too often. Some of the reasons that you should be careful about how you use them include:
when antibiotics are overused, they lose their effectiveness. This means that bacteria can begin to build up a tolerance to them and no longer respond to treatment. Over time, this begins to lead to antibiotic resistance in which illnesses become harder and harder to treat, sometimes even leading to death if more extreme measures aren't taken.
Dangerous Side effects Of Antibiotics
while most antibiotics will work with minimal side effects, some patients suffer far more serious consequences like vomiting, diarrhea or nausea. In rare cases, people have allergic reactions that could cause anaphylaxis, which can be fatal.
Fostering The Growth Of Superbugs
Superbugs are strains of bacteria that have become resistant to all forms of antibiotic treatment. They are very difficult to treat and can lead to unfortunate outcomes like organ failure or death because there's no way to stop them from growing and multiplying.
As well as these risks, overusing antibiotics can cause damage to your good gut bacteria, which is essential for keeping your immune system strong and healthy.
This is a serious issue that needs to be addressed by the healthcare industry as a whole, but individuals can also do their part by being careful about how they use antibiotics.
Many healthcare facilities are already exploring ways to use antibiotics more effectively and cautiously by implementing antibiotic stewardship programs with the help of companies like Thermo Fisher. By carrying out extensive tests on patients, doctors can gain more insight into the type and severity of bacterial infections. This information is then used to look for alternative treatments or more accurately prescribe antibiotics, limiting the amount of time they are used for and the dosage. Initiatives like the antibiotic stewardship program from Thermo Fisher will have a very important role to play in the future of healthcare. Only by implementing these kinds of programs will medical facilities be able to give patients antibiotics when necessary without risking overuse. This is vital in the fight against dangerous superbugs in the future.
As an individual, it is important that you question your doctor about antibiotic prescriptions. You should trust their judgment, but if they prescribe antibiotics without doing too much investigation, ask if there may be any alternatives to try instead. When you do take antibiotics, make sure that you follow the guidelines set out by your doctor so you can use them safely.
When Should You Use Antibiotics?
When you go to the doctor, they will try to determine whether you are suffering from an infection or not. While your illness might feel like it needs antibiotics, healthcare professionals won't prescribe them until they have made sure that bacteria is causing your health issues. This means that you should only be given antibiotics when they've been tested and proven as a suitable treatment for your symptoms.
If you visit multiple doctors with similar symptoms, make sure that all of them test for infections before giving you antibiotics. If this hasn't happened and they continue to give you drugs, ask why they haven't done anything more thorough beforehand which could lead to a more effective diagnosis.
In some cases, doctors might prescribe you antibiotics for a variety of illnesses that they're unsure about. This could be due to the possibility of bacterial infections or because they want to play it safe and give you all treatment options available. While this is a good practice in general, not everyone takes their medication as directed. If too many people stop using their prescription drugs once they begin to feel better, this can lead to superbugs developing resistance which makes them even harder to treat in the future.
Ultimately, you need to take the advice of your doctor but you should only take antibiotics if there are no other options available. Remember, doctors can be quick to prescribe antibiotics, so you should only visit them if you are sure that there is something wrong. If you go to the doctor's office with a common cold and you overplay your symptoms, they may assume you have a bacterial infection and prescribe antibiotics that you don't actually need.
What Are The Alternatives To Antibiotics?
Finding alternatives to antibiotics is crucial in the fight against antibiotic overuse. Often, people end up taking antibiotics on a regular basis because their overall health is poor and they are more prone to bacterial infections. Finding ways to improve your health and boost your immune system can reduce the chances of getting ill in the first place, so you do not need to take antibiotics so often.
Improving your diet and eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables will ensure that your body has everything it needs and your immune system will be boosted. You should also get regular exercise because this improves your immunity too.
Good hygiene will also help you kill bad bacteria and prevent illness too. Taking these preventative measures is the best way to reduce antibiotic use.
However, if you do get sick, there are some alternatives to antibiotics that you should consider. Instead of immediately going for antibiotics, you could try some natural remedies which are shown to have antibacterial properties. Garlic, vinegar and oil of oregano are all well-known options that can be taken in pill form or added to your food. These options are cheaper than buying antibiotics and will reduce the chances of bacteria developing resistance to drugs in the future. However, be aware that these natural remedies are not guaranteed to fight serious infections so if the symptoms persist, you will still need to seek the advice of a doctor.
If you are feeling ill and unsure about whether there's something wrong or not, read up on your symptoms online before going to see your doctor. If you go into their office with clear information about what could be wrong with you or if it could be viral/bacterial, they will be able to determine whether antibiotics are actually necessary faster than if they have no idea where to start. This means that you should search for self-diagnosis options before visiting your doctor. But keep in mind that a Google search is not a replacement for real medical advice and you should take everything with a pinch of salt. It's useful for helping the doctor determine what could be wrong, but you should always take professional medical advice over what you read online.
People rely on antibiotics too much and doctors are often to blame for this. Many people see a quick remedy in antibiotics, but these drugs have been responsible for the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Because more and more types of bacteria have now formed a resistance against traditional antibiotics, there are very few treatment options left that actually work. As long as humans keep treating every illness with an antibiotic, we will lose our battle against drug-resistant bacteria that could be fatal in some cases.
If you're unsure about whether or not you should take an antibiotic or what alternative therapies exist, talk to your health care provider! They can help you determine whether it's serious enough to warrant taking antibiotics or if you can try natural remedies instead. Antibiotics are an essential part of modern medicine, but they have to be used wisely in order for them to continue working properly.