Doctors don’t think twice about prescribing antibiotics…and most of us don’t think twice about taking them.
This is a mistake.
For years, antibiotics have been handed out by doctors like candy on Halloween. The drugs are the first-line treatment for respiratory infections. But antibiotics do absolutely nothing to help most respiratory infections like the flu and colds. They are caused by viruses. Antibiotics treat only bacterial illnesses.
American doctors write 47 million unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions a year. This is more than a waste of money… It’s a waste of lives.
As a result of antibiotic overuse, many disease-causing bacteria have become resistant. Antibiotics no longer have an effect on the deadly germs. So-called superbugs now kill more than 23,000 Americans a year.
Now, new research shows another way unnecessary antibiotics can hurt you.
The study was published in The Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology. Researchers reviewed a huge health database involving more than 150,000 people. They found that those who had taken antibiotics had a nearly two-thirds higher risk of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Some 1.6 million Americans have IBD. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are the two most prominent forms of the condition.
Both diseases involve inflammation of the colon, which leads to stomach cramping, diarrhea, and bleeding. In severe cases, patients need a colostomy.
How do antibiotics trigger IBD?
IBD is an autoimmune disorder in which your immune system attacks your own body. In the case of IBD, it attacks your intestines.
Researchers believe that antibiotics, by killing beneficial bacteria in your gut, cause your immune system to go haywire.
“I think (this study) affirms what many of us have suspected—that antibiotics, which adversely affect gut microbial communities, are a risk factor for IBD,” said Dr. Long Nguyen. He was the study’s lead author.
Antibiotics can also cause permanent, disabling damage to muscles, joints, and nerves. And they destroy beneficial probiotic gut bacteria that are important for digestion, immunity, and brain function. They have been linked to cancer and type 2 diabetes.
4 Signs You Need Antibiotics
Pneumonia and other respiratory infections are among the conditions most commonly treated with antibiotics…even though they are often caused by viruses, which don’t respond to antibiotics.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “at least 50% of antibiotic prescriptions for these acute respiratory conditions are unnecessary.”
So how can you tell if your respiratory illness is caused by a virus or bacteria? British researchers have developed a simple four-point test.
Scientists from the University of Southampton followed over 28,000 patients with signs of respiratory infections. They collected data on the patients’ symptoms, test results, and treatment.
The researchers found there were four symptoms that were almost foolproof in diagnosing whether a patient had bacterial pneumonia:
- Temperature higher than 100℉
- Pulse rate of more than 100 beats per minute
- Oxygen saturation in the blood lower than 95%.
- A crackling sound in the patient’s lung audible with a stethoscope.
The study found that nearly 90% of patients with pneumonia exhibited at least one of these signs.
Dr. Michael Moore is a professor of primary care research at the University of Southampton. He led the study.
“This study shows that there are objective measures that indicate whether or not a patient might have pneumonia,” Professor Moore said. “And they are all factors that GPs (general practitioners) can already test for.”
If you are going to a doctor for a respiratory illness, show him or her this article. Ask to be tested for the four symptoms that indicate pneumonia. Chances are that you have a cold or flu caused by a virus that will run its course without antibiotics.
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