Antibiotics taken ‘just to be safe’ can be deadly

Just yesterday I told you why it’s so important to play it safe when it comes to taking new drugs.

But there are times when doing something just to be on the “safe side” can make things more dangerous!

And that’s certainly the case when it comes to taking antibiotics. Using these drugs when you don’t absolutely need them is one of those innocent things that you probably do without giving it a second thought. If your doctor thought it was a good enough idea, it must be OK… right?

But Canadian researchers have found that one out of two seniors with viral infections will walk out the door with an Rx that won’t do a thing to help them recover — and that’s more than just a bad idea.

No matter how often it’s done, it’s a bad idea that can turn deadly.

A coin toss

The researchers involved in this new study call the unnecessary use of antibiotics a “major public health concern.” But this “public” concern can get very personal.

Doctors from three large medical centers in Ontario examined the data on over 185,000 Canadian seniors who went to see their primary-care physician for ailments such as the common cold, acute bronchitis, sinusitis or laryngitis.

And whether they got a broad-spectrum antibiotic — or not — was basically a coin toss, despite the fact that all the patients followed in this study were considered at a “low risk” for more serious complications. (That is, they didn’t have cancer or a condition that suppressed their immune system, and they weren’t nursing home residents.)

But it looks like — especially when you reach a certain age — all you have to do is show up at your doctor’s office to be given an antibiotic!

The head author of the study, Dr. Michael Silverman, remarked that this antibiotic free-for-all is going on despite “published professional guidelines that discourage” it.

And when it comes to taking unnecessary antibiotics that can cause “serious harm,” he added, choosing to be safe can make you very sorry.

First, there are the potential side effects involved with taking any antibiotic — especially the broad-spectrum ones the researchers found were most often prescribed. Those meds can significantly up your risk of a C. diff infection (often referred to as “deadly diarrhea”), heart problems, allergic reactions and even tendon ruptures. That last one has been linked to some commonly prescribed drugs in the fluoroquinolone family, which include Cipro and Levaquin.

Then there’s the worldwide crisis of antibiotic-resistant super bugs.

This isn’t some pie-in-the-sky future threat or something that only occurs in Third World countries. It’s here, and it’s here now.

Currently, millions of Americans are coming down with antibiotic-resistant infections every year, and tens of thousands are dying. Clearly, the overuse of antibiotics (including the ones given to healthy farm animals) has rendered many of them worthless when they’re needed the most.

All of this means that we need to be on our guard — and not just take the path of least resistance and start popping antibiotics “just in case.” And while this research was conducted in Canada, there’s no reason to believe that things are any different in the U.S.

So here’s what you need to do to protect yourself and your loved ones:

#1: Don’t ask for an antibiotic when you see your doctor — especially if you’re suffering from a viral infection such as a cold. And if he gives you one on his own, ask him why it’s necessary.

#2: If, in fact, you really do need an antibiotic, ask your doctor for one that targets your infection instead of a broad-spectrum one like Cipro. Often that will require a culture to find out your specific bug and how best to target it.

#3: When buying meat or poultry, always look for the kind that says “no antibiotics” were administered to the animals. Other label claims such as “all natural” and “farm-raised” don’t mean a thing!

“Half of all seniors who went to doctor for common cold prescribed unnecessary antibiotics” Lawson Health Research Institute, May 9, 2017, ScienceDaily, sciencedaily.com