This is one of those PSA blog posts, so you can totally skip it if you're not into them.
This morning when I got to work the monthly newsletter from out health affiliate was sitting in my inbox. I normally peruse the articles just to keep up to date with what's going on, even though some of them are really stupid. Last month it was about how if you lose only 12 pounds other people will find you more attractive. Okay, whatevs.
But today?! I nearly jumped for joy - it was well worth the read!
I'm sure, in many ways, I'm preaching to the choir on this, but I was very excited to see this article.
From The American College of Physicians: ACP and CDC issue advice for prescribing antibiotics for acute respiratory tract infections (ARTIs) in adults.
If you're not aware, there's an unfortunate trend in the States for doctors to prescribe something just for the hell of prescribing it. A lot of people don't like to go to the doctor to be told, 'Sorry, there's nothing we can do, just wait it out for a week and your cold will go away!', so doctors give their patients a prescription for an antibiotic even though it will do absolutely nothing to help the patient.
But this article today??
GUESS WHAT IT SAYS, GUYS!?!?
"Inappropriate use of antibiotics for ARTIs is an important factor contributing to the spread of antibiotic-resistant infections, which is a public health threat....Reducing overuse of antibiotics for ARTIs in adults is a clinical priority and a High Value Care way to improve quality of care, lower health care costs, and slow and/or prevent the continued rise in antibiotic resistance.
"ARTIs, including the common cold, uncomplicated bronchitis, sore throat, and sinus infection, are the most common reason for doctor's office visits. According to unpublished CDC data, an estimated 50 percent of antibiotic prescriptions may be unnecessary or inappropriate in the outpatient setting, which equates to over $3 billion in excess costs. Antibiotics are also responsible for the largest number of medication-related adverse events and the cause of about one in five visits to emergency departments for adverse drug reactions."
If you're one of those people who thinks antibiotics are a cure all, you should stop reading this blog right now (but please, come back!) and please GO READ THE WHOLE THING.
For me, hearing the words "do you want a Z-pack" come out of the mouth of someone who is not a doctor, are the most grating medicine-related thing to hear.
Offering someone antibiotics, or taking them yourself, when they are not needed is dumb and dangerous.
There. I said it. And if you're one of those people, I guess I just called you dumb too. #sorrynotsorry
I'm in an unfortunate spot that whenever I develop a sniffle I hear this, and I find myself explaining time and again (to deaf ears, mind you) that - A COLD IS A VIRUS. An antibiotic will not help, and taking antibiotics when you do not need them contributes to the growth of antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria. An antibiotic may actually cause more problems than it solves (which, in the case of a virus, would be none. It will solve NO problems).
This personal anecdote might broach into TMI zone but it's my blog and this topic is important to me, so here goes:
If you were a reader last year, you may remember that I trained for and ran the Runs for Cookies 5k while recovering from a (legit) upper respiratory infection. Like, coughing up pus URI. So obviously I needed antibiotics (and steroids...gah) to 'get over' it. I hadn't taken an antibiotic since I was about 13 and had a couple bad bouts of strep throat.
Well, I took my antibiotics and my steriods...and they worked GREAT. So great that (here's the TMI part) I got a super nasty yeast infection because of the antibiotics. I'd never in my life had one, and found myself wondering what I did to deserve it.
------- At this point, women are nodding their heads at this post like, 'Holy hell, you are so right, yeast infections are the worst!' and men, I'm going to tell you that you should be sitting there praising God Almighty in Heaven for not giving you a vagina. Or just rub sand paper inside your...nevermind. But that's how it feels. -------
It took two rounds of diflucan (antifungal medication) and MONTHS of probiotics to get things back to normal-ish, and it all left me wondering (in desperation) if I could have beat the URI without the antibiotics.
So now when someone offers me antibiotics FOR A COLD I cringe even harder because NO. NONONONO I do not want to go through any of that again. And no, the solution is not to offer diflucan with the unnecessary antibiotic. Got that, people?! The answer is to not take either and let your body take care of the VIRUS on its own. Taking an antibiotic will not help you get rid of the virus any faster!
Tl;dr here: I'm really glad to see that the ACP and CDC are urging physicians to stop over prescribing antibiotics, and to educate their patients on why they're completely unnecessary for viruses.
Don't get me wrong - antibiotics are freaking amazing. Their discovery has literally saved millions and millions of lives, and I would gladly take a yeast infection over something like blood-poisoning.
But, you know, if I ever get blood poisoning...I, like, WANT THE ANTIBIOTICS TO WORK.
And that is why I only take them when I have to.
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