Antibiotics: Too Much of a Good Thing?

Posted June 14, 2017

For nearly 75 years, antibiotics have saved millions of lives from infectious bacteria. But now we’re using them when we don’t need them — and this poses serious health risks worldwide:

1. Antibiotics can disrupt the body’s natural and essential balance of good and bad bacteria. For example, each year C. difficile bacteria sickens at least 250,000 Americans and kills an estimated 14,000 people.

2. Overusing antibiotics breeds superbugs such as MRSA, an antibiotic-resistant bacteria that’s spreading through our communities and homes and the military. It infects 2 million people and kills 23,000 annually.

3. The CDC is warning about the spread of 2 other deadly resistant infections: CRE bacteria kill 50% of infected patients. Shigella, a highly contagious intestinal bacteria often contracted overseas, is resistant to several common antibiotics.

4. Antibiotics can have severe side effects — principally diarrhea — which kill thousands of Americans annually.

Antibiotic alternatives: Work with your health care providers and become aware of smart drug use for you and your children. Ask about antibiotic alternatives that may ease symptoms.

Fight infections and contagion. Keep vaccinations current. And wash hands thoroughly and often with plain soap (non-antibacterial) and water, especially:

• Before preparing or eating food.

• After bathroom use, coughing or handling garbage.

• After exposure in public places, such as malls, theaters and restaurants.

Remember, using antibiotics raises your risk of getting a resistant infection in the future. If you must use them, do so exactly as your health care provider has prescribed.