Are there Healthier Options?
For decades, antibiotics have been the cornerstone of treatment for bacterial infections. Antibiotics have saved many lives during this time. However, doctors have come to rely too heavily on these miracle drugs and the overuse of antibiotics had led to serious problems.
The Crisis of Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria
According to Dr. Harold C. Neu, of Columbia University in New York, 'In 1941, a patient could receive 40,000 units of penicillin per day for four days and be cured of a case of pneumococcal pneumonia. Today, a patient could receive 24 million units of penicillin a day and die of pneumococcal meningitis.' He adds that bacteria that cause infection of the respiratory tract, skin, bladder, bowel, and blood '... are now resistant to virtually all of the older antibiotics. The extensive use of antibiotics in the community and hospitals has fuelled this crisis.'
Bacteria develop resistance to drugs when exposed to them for extended periods. Bacteria can also pass the genes for resistance from one type to another. A sort of information superhighway exists among bacteria that allows resistance to spread rapidly among bacteria that have not even been exposed to a particular antibiotic. These and other factors have caused medicine to take a halting look at the current way in which antibiotics are used.
Antibiotic Overuse and Chronic Health Complaints
For all of the potential benefits of antibiotics, a growing list of adverse health consequences has emerged because of antibiotic overuse. A small sample of these is listed below:
Treat the Bacteria or Treat the Person
Many doctors believe that illness from bacterial infection is far more likely when the immune system is compromised in some manner. Diet, nutrition, lifestyle, environment, social, and psychological factors all influence the immune system in significant ways. When unfavorable changes occur in these areas, immune function may suffer and bacteria may more easily gain a foothold. The treatment of bacterial infection should, therefore, at least include efforts to correct imbalances in these areas.
What Can You Do?
Medical scientists and policy makers are trying to reduce excessive antibiotic use by educating doctors and patients about the problems of antibiotic overuse. They are working to develop new drugs, to track infections in hospitals, and to improve public hygiene. These are important efforts, yet they do not address what the individual can do to improve immune function and avoid antibiotics. The best plan to improve immune function is one of overall wellness that includes :
Nutrition : low vitamin C and zinc lead to a sluggish immune response.
Diet : Excess refined sugar slow the ability of white blood cells to engulf and destroy bacteria.
Lifestyle : Sedentary people tend to have more sluggish immune systems.
Environment : Solvent chemicals and heavy metals increase susceptibility to infection
Psychological : Those under stress are more susceptible to infection.
For many common ailments, natural remedies can be extremely helpful. Increasingly, scientific research is confirming time-honored traditions. Below are a few samples:
Are Antibiotics Being Overused in Your Care?
The following guidelines will help you decide if your medical doctor might be prescribing antibiotics too liberally. Add a '1' for each time that applies.
If the total score is more than 5, you may be receiving antibiotics needlessly. Ask your doctor for a full reevaluation of the situation or seek another opinion.
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