Are Antibiotics the best medicine?

You’ve come down with a cold, the flu, a sore throat, a cough, a fever, sinus congestion, a sore ear, or perhaps, a bladder infection. These symptoms are significantly bothersome and you choose to go see the doctor. You already know what the doctor is likely to do– prescribe an antibiotic. For some of you, the antibiotic does its work and the problem is gone. For others, the initial symptoms are unaffected and are now accompanied by unwanted side effects. For yet others, the antibiotic treatment results in weakened health and perhaps even creates chronic problems. For those still less fortunate, the antibiotic is followed by antibiotic after antibiotic in a seemingly endless effort to kill the “alleged invaders.”

Antibiotics are prescribed at an alarming rate in our country.Pediatricians lead the way prescribing over $500 million worth of antibiotics each year to treat just one problem– ear infections in children. Another $500 million is spent on antibiotics to treat other pediatric illness. Over the past 15 years, antibiotic prescriptions to young children have risen 51%. This heavy prescribing of antibiotics is not without large costs. Here’s some stats to think about before taking your next antibiotic:

1) The number of unnecessary antibiotics prescribed annually for viral infections is 20 million per year. More than 40-60% of about 50 million prescriptions for antibiotics written each year in physicians’ offices are inappropriate and are mis-prescribed. Using antibiotics when not needed can lead to the development of deadly strains of bacteria that are resistant to drugs and cause more than 88,000 deaths each year due to hospital-acquired infections.

2) In the US, over 3 million pounds of antibiotics are used every year on humans, this amount is enough to give every man, woman, and child 10 teaspoons of pure antibiotics per year. Manufacturers of antibiotics recommend that we each have a maximum of 3 courses of antibiotics over a lifetime or we will permanently destroy our immune system. Candida albicans infection, often associated with antibiotic-induced alterations in microbial flora, can permanently alter or destroy cellular immunity.

3) Antibiotics used to treat upper respiratory infections have been shown to cause chronic bladder and yeast infections. The rates of recurrent ear infections are 75% higher in the antibiotic-treated group than in the placebo group.

4) The number of people having in-hospital, adverse reactions to prescribed drugs is 2.2 million per year (sometimes even death). There is an annual death rate of 420,000 for drug errors and medical errors combined. An estimated 164 million people—more than half of the total US population—receive unneeded medical treatment over the course of a decade. The most stunning statistic, however, is that the total number of deaths caused by conventional medicine is an astounding 783,936 per year. It is now evident that the North American medical system is the leading cause of annual death and injury.