Do You Really Want To Take That?

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(credit: Dr. Dave Hnida)

(credit: Dr. Dave Hnida)

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Written by Dr. Dave Hnida, CBS4 Medical EditorA new study shows despite all the finger wagging warnings about unnecessary antibiotics, we doctors … and you patients continue to use them like candy.

The vast majority of infections are caused by viruses, so taking antibiotics really doesn’t do anything except cost you money, give you diarrhea and make germs more resistant.

The figures are such: about 10 percent of sore throats are strep. That means 90 percent are viruses. Yet 60 percent of people who go to the doctor for a sore throat get an Rx.

It’s even worse for bronchitis — in most cases its nothing more than a mild chest cold that often hangs on forever. Research shows about only 5 percent are caused by antibiotics. Yet 75 percent of people leave the office with a prescription.

As a side note, the reason you cough for such a long time after bronchitis is that the virus inflames your airways so much, that you cough your head off your shoulders for weeks on end even though the illness is actually gone and took the germ with it. In fact, we often find an asthma inhaler is more helpful than anything to quell that cough.

Why do we give, and why do you take? The answer is that are many. It’s easy, it makes us both feel like something is being done, and who the heck likes to be sick anyway — we want to be fixed yesterday.

But besides the germs becoming resistant, there is the risk of an allergic reaction even if you’ve taken that same antibiotic 100 times before, there is the risk of the med reacting with other meds you may be taking, then there are the side effects: rash, nausea, sunburn, weakened tendons, diarrhea. (The list truly is endless, and so is your misery.)

Bottom line — we both need to do a better job. When you truly need an antibiotic, we should prescribe it. When you don’t, we should stick to our guns and say so. The best medicine is often no medicine.

Source study: JAMA Internal Medicine

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