Wed, May 8, 2019 at 11:45 AM
Doctor explains why it's important to be smart about using antibiotics, and let your physician decide what's best for an illness.
A group of seniors got educated on how to "Be Smart with Antibiotics" during the GoldCare 55+ April Lunch N’ Learn. The lesson, from Dr. Amanda Storey of Grant Primary Care:
Don’t take antibiotics for every illness.
Instead, listen to your physician and use antibiotics only when they are right for a specific infection.
“Let the doctor lead you in deciding what type of infection you have,” Dr. Storey advised. “Let them make that clinical decision. They’re the experts.”
If you are prescribed antibiotics, take them exactly as prescribed. Don’t stop taking them before they’re gone. Stopping before the drug is finished could allow stronger bacteria to stay alive and multiply.
“These are superbugs, as we call them,” Dr. Storey said.
Overuse of antibiotics contributes to the rise in these dangerous superbugs. This is due to antibiotic resistance when bacteria develop the ability to defeat the drugs designed to kill them. When bacteria become resistant, antibiotics cannot fight them and they multiply. Every year 23,000 people die from antibiotic resistance.
She also explained that illnesses caused by viruses – such as colds and bronchitis - will get better on their own. Acute bronchitis is caused by a virus, lasts 18 days on average and is not improved with antibiotics.
“Antibiotics are not always the answer,” she warned.
Another reason to be cautious about antibiotics is the allergy concern. Allergic reactions to antibiotics cause one in five medicine-related visits to emergency rooms. So it is deadly serious to be smart about taking antibiotics.
“If you go to the doctor and they tell you that you don’t need an antibiotic, that’s a good thing,” Dr. Storey said. “They’re doing you a favor.”
Also, listen to your doctor and follow the advice you’re given.
Antibiotics also can disrupt the normal micro-organisms or healthy bacteria in the colon. Evidence suggests that unnecessary antibiotic use is linked to allergic, infectious and autoimmune diseases, likely because it disrupts the micro-organisms within and on the human body.
Dr. Storey emphasized three main take-aways:
• Healthy adults get 2-4 colds per year which are viral and will get better on their own
• Antibiotics can cause serious side effects and promote superbugs.
• Always ask your doctor what to expect from an infection and when to return if not better.
One senior asked whether taking a probiotic along with an antibiotic is a good idea. Dr. Storey said that probably is a smart move because a probiotic certainly is not harmful.
Another attendee asked whether she would recommend taking high doses of vitamin C when a cold begins. Dr. Storey said high doses of vitamin C have not been shown to help ward off colds.
Because colds are typically caused by viruses, symptoms should be treated with over-the-counter drugs. However, if you become short of breath, start wheezing or develop a fever of 101 degrees or have a weakened immune system, then you definitely should see a doctor, she recommended.
If you are 55 or older and would like to take advantage of all the benefits of the GoldCare 55+ program, you can find an application form at the GoldCare page here, or pick one up in the lobby of Marshall North or South, or sign up at the GoldCare 55+ office at 2320 Homer Clayton Drive. For more information, call 256.571.8025 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.