North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

Health

November 3, 2009

Antibiotics are never the right call if patient has a virus

Health Watch By Nicholas Helms

The North Jefferson News




Fall is now upon us and for many people that means colds and allergies.

In addition to the normal seasonal ailments that most experience, the H1N1 Influenza virus, or Swine Flu, is a new sickness that will affect patients this fall and winter. With so many affected by these illnesses, many questions arise as to how to best treat them.



When to use antibiotics

When most of us are sick, the first remedy we think of is an antibiotic.

These are great drugs that work well at fighting off infections caused by bacteria. This is where the questions and some confusion come into play.

Exactly which infections are caused by bacteria? This becomes important due to that fact that antibiotics will not treat colds, flu and allergies as many believe. These illnesses are not caused by bacteria, consequently making antibiotics ineffective and potentially harmful.

Although antibiotics treat bacterial infections well, taking an antibiotic when one is not needed may inadvertently cause any other bacteria in your body to become resistant to the antibiotics.



Resistance

Resistance is quickly becoming a hot topic in the medical profession as it is a growing problem that is affecting many patients by producing infections that are not responding to antibiotics.

Because of the growing size of the problem, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has started promoting a new campaign they are calling Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work.

The purpose of the campaign is to educate the public on the proper use of antibiotics and signs and symptoms of true bacterial infections.



Public effect

Why is resistance a problem?

Imagine getting walking pneumonia. Usually, going to your doctor and getting an antibiotic easily treats this illness. You feel pretty bad for a while, but the antibiotic kills off the bacteria and soon you are in good health.

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