As the so-called "season" of colds and flus makes this year's debut, yet another reason emerges to avoid antibiotics - or at least be more cautious and discriminating about when and how to use them. The United Kingdom now acknowledges that the excessive prescription and subsequent overuse of antibiotics can have deadly consequences if doctors and patients don't change their ways, and fast. As a direct result of such abuse, antibiotics are becoming increasingly less effective against potentially fatal bacteria. If this pattern persists, said Health Chief Dame Sally Davies, more people could die from routine medical procedures like heart surgery.
"Antibiotics are losing their effectiveness at a rate that is alarming and irreversible - similar to global warming," Davies said. In the absence of a major reduction in the use of antibiotics, she warns that certain untreatable conditions may spread, while other difficult-to-treat infections like multi-resistant E-coli will take more lives. She suggests that doctors and patients must work together to combat this growing antibiotic resistance.
Patients must stop expecting or requesting antibiotics prescriptions from their doctors for mild infections and minor illnesses like coughs, sore throats and earaches, said Dr. Cliodna McNulty, a microbiologist at the Health Protection Agency. And doctors, too, should take extra care to help educate their patients about the consequences of using antibiotics.
Antibiotics 101 - What doctors aren't telling you
The fact is that antibiotics do nothing at all for viral infections. They are completely ineffective against most of the conditions for which they are prescribed, like coughs, fevers and the like, which have simply to run their course and eventually heal on their own. In fact, fevers are the body's own natural attempt to burn up toxic invaders. Still, doctors sometimes prescribe antibiotics anyway, either to prevent a secondary bacterial infection, or at the blind and sometimes angry insistence of patients and parents who don't know any better.
What antibiotics are indiscriminately effective at is killing bacteria - all bacteria. This may rid a person of the unwanted harmful bacteria, yes, but with the likely more harmful result that friendly bacteria are destroyed as well, the kind necessary to all manner of vital biological functions, such as digestion, absorption of nutrients and the development of immune strength. The unnecessary disruption of this delicate internal ecological balance, especially for children, is therefore a terrible mistake with consequences potentially greater than the initial perceived threat of a minor cough or cold.
The dangers are multi-fold. The frequent or improper use of antibiotics results in the proliferation of bacterial resistance. By using antibiotics when they're not needed, or by not taking the full dosage as prescribed, certain bacteria may mutate and survive, becoming more resistant to even the most powerful antibiotics around today. Within just one day's time, a single such mutated bacterium will reproduce millions more just like it, with the very same antibiotic resistance. But even when properly used, remember that antibiotics kill bacteria, which are just one of many types of microorganisms constantly warring with one another inside the body. It's a kind of checks-and-balances system that ultimately makes homeostasis possible. But with bacteria dead, the body loses one of its key defenses, rendering the person more susceptible to other invaders like yeast, viral, parasitic and fungal infections.
Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers antibiotic resistance a widespread problem, calling it "one of the world's most pressing public health problems." Among those conditions becoming more difficult to treat are certain forms of tuberculosis, gonorrhea and pneumococcal infections (responsible for pneumonia). An epidemic of Shigella diarrhea killed more than 12,000 people in Guatemala back in 1968, after the microbe had mutated to become resistant to four different antibiotics.
Real medicine - Prevention and alternative treatments
As always, the best thing you can do for your health is to eat fresh, organic, unprocessed, chemical-free, nutrient-dense, mineral-rich foods. Avoid conventional dairy and meats which contain obscenely high amounts of antibiotics, using considerably more per year even than what is prescribed for people. Be sure to also get plenty of rest, hydrate well with spring or distilled water, practice good hygiene and reduce your exposure to environmental toxins like those found in household cleaners and many body care products. These habits alone will work wonders in preventing illness and infections. If you still get sick, certain alternative remedies such as colloidal silver can be most beneficial. Should you choose to take antibiotics, be sure to inquire as to the nature of your condition (whether bacterial or viral) and carefully weigh the pros and cons of the situation. The truth remains, in most cases, that the risks far outweigh the benefits.
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