The Over-prescription of Antibiotics - Epidemic status?
I have a story to tell you regarding one of the MANY times antibiotics were prescribed to myself or my family when they weren't needed. Sadly, I am sure you have your own story tell.
Over Mother's Day weekend, I was having brunch with some other moms. My kids and husband were home pouring a concrete footing for our new basketball hoop. To be funny, our 10-year-old thought he would slip the cardboard tube for the footing over his head and walk around with it. The tube was quite large, (about 4 feet tall and 16" in diameter) making it go from neck to ankles. It pinned his arms to his body. He got a little scared because he couldn't get it off and was stuck. He freaked out and tripped on the asphalt driveway and since his arms were pinned in the tube, he hit his head very hard. There was nothing to block the fall.
There were no signs of a concussion right away. Over the next few hours we did see some nausea and other things come up which warranted a trip to the doctor the next day.
The doctor wasn't overly concerned about the head bump. She asked him a bunch of questions and had him do some physical "tests". She listened to his lungs asking if I heard any wheezing. She suspected pneumonia. The trees are starting to bud out which can bring on seasonal allergies for my kiddos. They cough, I didn't think anything of it. A pulse - ox (oxygen) reading revealed his oxygen levels were 93-95%. This is where things got interesting.
She said, "well, we have 3 options..... you can get a check x-ray to rule out pneumonia entirely, it will reveal if there is an issue. If it's presenting as viral the antibiotic won't work but we can give you one just in case. Or you can wait and see, come back if it gets worse." Whoa! Wait, what? You offer a script for antibiotics not even knowing if there is an infection? If it's viral the prescription won't even help anyway so we are subjecting this young boy to unnecessary antibiotics? I wasn't keen on the x-ray, however that was the only way to actually see if there was a need for further intervention. X-ray it was.
I have another story regarding a client and her son. The son woke one day with a very sore throat. Over the next 24 hours it got much worse, so he went to the doctor. He was examined and given antibiotics for strep. There was no strep test done, just a prescription written and sent on his way. He took the script as directed and at the end of 10 days his throat was MUCH worse. He didn't get better. So he went back to the doctor. Another prescription was written as he was misdiagnosed. The previous doctor should have tested for strep because it wasn't that. It was a bacterial infection of the throat. More antibiotics..... they decided not to go that route and used homeopathy instead. Unfortunately, I have many stories like this.
According to the CDC.gov website, 1 in 3 antibiotics prescribed is unnecessary! "At least 30 percent of antibiotics prescribed in the United States are unnecessary, according to new data published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in collaboration with Pew Charitable Trusts and other public health and medical experts."
"The study analyzed antibiotic use in doctors’ offices and emergency departments throughout the United States. CDC researchers found that most of these unnecessary antibiotics are prescribed for respiratory conditions caused by viruses – including common colds, viral sore throats, bronchitis, and sinus and ear infections – which do not respond to antibiotics. These 47 million excess prescriptions each year put patients at needless risk for allergic reactions or the sometimes deadly diarrhea, Clostridium difficile."
My son had a viral issue in his chest. The antibiotics wouldn't have done anything to help him. However, it could have had a lot of ill effects.
Over prescribing these antibiotics can lead to:
Drug resistance - super bugs
Gut Health Disruption
Candida (yeast infection)
Birth Control Medication ineffectiveness
and so much more we don't even know about
According to Pubmed.com, in an article dated December 4, 2014, titled Antimicrobial resistance: risk associated with antibiotic overuse and initiatives to reduce the problem, "Antimicrobial resistance is a global public health challenge, which has accelerated by the overuse of antibiotics worldwide. Increased antimicrobial resistance is the cause of severe infections, complications, longer hospital stays and increased mortality. Overprescribing of antibiotics is associated with an increased risk of adverse effects, more frequent re-attendance and increased medicalization of self-limiting conditions. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is recognized as one of the greatest threats to human health worldwide."
This is not just a problem in the US, it is world wide. In an article by Denis Campbell of the Guardian.com, "GPs are fueling the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance by wrongly giving antibiotics to one in five patients who has a cough or sore throat, a government-funded study has found."
"Family doctors are displaying “substantial inappropriate antibiotic prescribing” when dealing with patients who have an infection, according to research published by Public Health England (PHE), the government’s public health advisers."
"Of the 32.5m antibiotics GPs in England prescribe every year “at least” 20% – 6.3m – are unnecessary, a panel of experts has concluded." That's a lot! Too many.
Please be your own advocate. Ask questions. If you are not getting answers, ask again! Persist until you get the answers you need. Had I just left it, we would have walked out with a prescription and given the antibiotics when they were not needed. If the issue is viral, the drugs won't help. If you do need them, ask how you can minimize the damage done to the gut. You are your best advocate. Also research alternatives. Herbs, homeopathy and aromatherapy can also be considered in non-life threatening situations.
As always, should you have any questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a wonderful day!
Love and light,
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