Why not do antibiotics?

It is obvious that antibiotics have helped many people and increased the health of humans when used correctly. Their development and use has increased the life expectancy for all, stopped the suffering from many illnesses and changed the course of open wound injury from a possible life risk to no big deal. However, use of antibiotics should be very focused and used only in known bacterial illness patterns. They do NOT have a use in treating viral illness, like colds or vomiting. They do not protect us from exposures to diseases except in a few rare cases like Malaria. And, using them has been shown to make it harder to cure the next infection.

As we complete a course of antibiotics, the normal bacteria that live in our gut change. These bacteria are called probiotics. It appears as if the best, healthy bacteria die easier from common antibiotics than the worst bacteria. This change in the gut bacteria has been related to problems like colitis, diarrhea, obesity and more. Also, studies suggest that it may take greater than 6 weeks after antibiotic use to regain that balance, if regained at all. As this layer of protective bacteria form a barrier to disease causing bacteria and viruses, this means that we are more susceptible to the next disease in that time period. Sometimes it feels like you can’t get a break!

Finally, more studies have been showing long-term consequences of antibiotic use in early babies. There have been associations with future development of tooth cavities, obesity, environmental allergy syndromes and other disorders. As everyone should know, some people have allergic reactions to antibiotics. These are not minor and can lead to very bad problems, including even death. Every time a doctor writes a prescription for an antibiotic, it is a big deal.

Clearly, the effects of antibiotics are NOT ALL GOOD! Like many other issues, it is smart to work together with your pediatric practitioner to decide if treatment is right for your child. Please remember that all good things can have a down side. Don’t fall victim to fear of illness, believing that the antibiotic will cure or protect as it may complicate things and prolong your child’s suffering.

Some resources for more info:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Antibiotics Aren’t Always the Answer
Mayo Clinic: Consumer Health on Antibiotics
WebMD and EMedicine also have reliable information on this topic.

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