Antibiotics – pro or con?

Antibiotics is the name given to a group of drugs that are used to fight bacterial infections in the body. Antibiotics have saved millions of lives since the discovery of penicillin in 1928. However, due to overuse of Antibiotics, drug resistant bacteria have become a problem. It has become important to limit Antibiotic use to those cases where it is absolutely necessary.

Antibiotics come in a number of different brands, colours, sizes, and in different forms e.g., liquids, tablets, capsules and creams. Antibiotics can only be prescribed by a medical doctor, as these drugs are usually prescribed when an infection is of a serious nature. Many patients expect Antibiotics to be the cure for every ailment known to man; and they often try to pressure doctors to prescribe antibiotics for viral infections (influenza for example). It is a known fact that antibiotics have no effect on viruses, and cannot be taken in those cases.

Antibiotics also have a range of undesirable side effects, such as:

  • Repeated use of Antibiotics may decrease the effectiveness of the immune system.
  • Antibiotics can contribute to nutrient loss and adversely affect the availability of vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, folic acid, zinc, calcium and magnesium. Antibiotics can cause diarrhoea leading to further loss of minerals.
  • ‘Good’ bacteria are required in the gut for the digestion and absorption of nutrients. ‘Good’ bacteria also play a role in preventing further bacterial infections. Unfortunately most Antibiotics wipe out many of the helpful bacteria as well as those which make us sick. This may increase the likelihood of future bacterial and fungal infections. Many women get thrush after a course of antibiotics for this reason.
  • Incorrect or over use of Antibiotics helps create varieties of bacteria which no longer respond to these medicines. This is becoming a major health problem, particularly for patients in hospital where most of these bugs are found.

It is therefore important to always consult your Doctor for diagnosis and advice. This information is NOT intended to replace the advice of a medical practitioner, as your Doctor will prescribe Antibiotics only if he/she thinks this type of treatment is warranted. Your Doctor may isolate the exact bacteria causing your illness to be sure it is not an Antibiotic resistant strain. Be sure to also inform your Doctor of any drug allergies or past reactions to Antibiotics you may have experienced. The key to successful antibiotic use is to ALWAYS complete the full course of Antibiotics, as prescribed by your Doctor. Stopping short of completion will NOT deliver desired results. Never take Antibiotics or medications prescribed for others.

If the dosage of the antibiotic is not adequate, it will not be effective for treatment of the infection and bacteria are more likely to develop resistance. This is because the bacteria can continue to grow and develop ways to disrupt the antibiotic’s effects.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 18 million courses of antibiotics are prescribed (by doctors!!!) per year and an estimated 50 million unnecessary antibiotics are prescribed for viral respiratory infections. These and other needless antibiotic prescriptions, in addition to the many “correct” ones, are responsible for the increasing resistance of bacteria to many widely-used antibiotics, especially in hospitals. It is therefore important for you to understand the actual need for and effectiveness of antibiotics, so you don’t take it without being sure you need it.

Our pharmacists are always available for any questions or concerns you may have, with regard to antibiotics. Although we are not allowed to subscribe it, we are able to shed light on the issues and assist you through the knowledge process. Depending on your symptoms, we can also advise alternative remedies if applicable, so don’t hesitate to ask. Prevention is always better than cure and that’s exactly where our commitment to assisting you promotes health and wellness in every way.

With or without antibiotics, we can help you become happier and healthier today!