Antibiotics 101

Cold & Flu | | August 31, 2009 at 2:16 am

Photo by destinysagent.

Remember that saying antibiotic resistance? While you may not have heard or read about it in popular media lately, it still exists. Each year, millions of tons of antibiotics are dispensed without even a visit to the doctor’s office! Worse, several grocery store chains of late have been offering free antibiotics! In most cases, there’s a safe alternative so that you can reserve these drugs for only very serious illness. Unless you’ve visited a physician and been cultured for bacteria, forgo the drugs.

You may be surprised to learn that many infections end up being caused by viruses rather than bacteria. If you’re seriously ill and must visit the physician, insist before you’re written a prescription for any medication that they not only culture for bacteria, but include sensitivity. Sensitivity refers to the specific bacteria so that treatment will best reflect what may be lurking within.

If you must take an antibiotic, be sure to follow instructions and complete the entire course. Don’t use antibiotics that have been left behind. Head to your medicine cabinet and clean out any old unused drugs. Most pharmacies conveniently now offer programs to safely dispose of your old drugs for you. Never flush drugs in the toilet or put down the drain as they’ll end up in both the soil and municipal water supply.

The next time you or your child is ill, consider the signs and symptoms to distinguish bacterial from viral. As a general rule, viruses tend to affect us systemically while bacteria affect local regions. Visit your Chinese medical or naturopathic physician to safely assess and seek nondrug alternatives.

A few common viral ailments often mistaken as bacterial include:

  • Otistis Media (ear infections)
  • Some forms of bronchitis and pneumonia
  • Common cold
 and seasonal allergies

Just finished a course of antibiotics? Protect and enhance your immunity with probiotics.

ChristineChristine M. Dionese L.Ac. specializes in integrative medicine, medical journalism and was the VP of marketing at WellWire LLC. Visit her wellness and lifestyle blog, Reaching Beyond Now.

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