How likely is your doctor to prescribe you an antibiotic even if one isn’t necessary?
As it turns out, that depends on how old you are!
A new study has found that from the youngest patients (such as infants and toddlers) to the oldest, it’s those with the most candles on their birthday cake who get the lion’s share of antibiotics.
And this is no little matter. Nor is it simply an easy way to be on the “safe side” when you’re sick. It’s a bad — and dangerous — idea that far too many doctors don’t think twice about.
But it’s something you should be paying close attention.
Because antibiotics are risky enough when you really need them. And taken unnecessarily (for a case of the sniffles or a sinus infection, for instance), they can turn a minor ailment into a disaster.
The antibiotic free-for-all
It seems that when you reach a certain age, all you have to do is cough… and your doctor writes you out an Rx for an antibiotic!
And that’s more than just a guess. It’s a fact — one that was recently confirmed in a large study conducted by researchers at the Carolinas HealthCare System.
While examining 450,000 records for outpatient medical care, they found that antibiotics are handed out at twice the rate to those in their 60s as they are to tots. And seniors are given many of these prescriptions, they found, for conditions such as acute bronchitis and other viral upper respiratory infections, which have been found time and time again to not respond to antibiotics!
As they put it, the prescribing of these drugs “increased incrementally with age.”
But why haven’t doctors seen the light yet when it comes to the danger of overprescribing antibiotics? Last year, I told you about a study that found premier medical center Johns Hopkins guilty of excessive antibiotic overuse. And that was discovered from research conducted by the hospital’s own experts on its own patients!
While the current study didn’t do much to shed any light on why this continues to be a problem, the researchers did say that patients “pressure” docs to hand them out.
Really, it’s all our fault?
The fact is that doctors have been told for a long time now to stop this knee-jerk approach to treating viral infections. Apparently, they’re just not listening!
And, yes, it’s not easy to second-guess what your doctor orders. Considering what’s at stake here, however, questioning his advice might very well be necessary at times.
For example, excessive antibiotic use can put your heart in danger… cause allergic reactions… and, in the case of the commonly prescribed drugs in the “fluoroquinolone” family (such as Cipro), cause your tendons to rupture.
Of course, due to the overuse of these drugs, we’re all dealing with the ongoing crisis of antibiotic-resistant superbugs like C. diff, which causes a severe, hard-to-shake infection (a.k.a. “deadly diarrhea”).
I’m sure you’ve read about cases of deadly infections that antibiotics can no longer treat coming from other countries. But guess what? It’s no longer a future threat for the U.S., but one that’s going on right now as you read this!
This is something that has been swept under the carpet for a long time now. But we can’t ignore it any longer.
That’s why taking these two steps — however long you’ve lived — is so vitally important:
#1: Antibiotics are typically overprescribed for viral conditions including colds, bronchitis, sinus infections, and sore throats. If you’re certain that you don’t have a bacterial infection, and your doctor prescribes an antibiotic anyway, ask him why. It’s a simple but hard-to-ask question that will accomplish two important things.
You’ll have him giving that Rx a second thought, which might very well cause him to change his mind. And he can no longer use the excuse that you expected to be prescribed an antibiotic. Actually, you’ll be asking not to get one!
#2: If your doctor has taken a culture and knows the specific bug you’ve got that needs treating… and you really do need an antibiotic… ask for one that targets your infection, instead of a “one-size-fits-all,” broad-spectrum drug such as Cipro.
Doing whatever it takes to curb this antibiotic free-for-all is no longer just a good idea. It’s absolutely, positively necessary!
“With aging comes more antibiotics for respiratory conditions” Milly Walker, January 30, 2018, Medpage Today, medpagetoday.com