As we start the New Year, many of us will make a New Year’s resolution involving our health, diet, or exercise. One thing we must keep in mind this time of year is healthy habits to avoid the common cold, the flu, sinus infection, and pneumonia. A healthy habit that many of us forget is when it is appropriate to use an antibiotic for our illnesses. Everyone plays a critical role in improving antibiotic use and preventing antibiotic-resistant illnesses. The CDC has started an initiative for health care workers, hospitals and nursing homes to guide providers in evidence-based findings on when an antibiotic is appropriate for treatment. Working together we can improve and protect the health and well being of everyone. This is crucial for the well being of generations to come. We need to be sure the life-saving antibiotics we have today will continue to be useful for years to come.
What are Antibiotics Used for?
We rely on antibiotics to cure life-threatening illness. Antibiotics do not come without risk, however. Antibiotics can cause diarrhea, GI upset and allergic reactions. Also, when we take an antibiotic, it kills not only the harmful bacteria but also the good bacteria. Killing these good bacteria will make you more susceptible to other illness. This can take your body months to recover, therefore posing a risk to you for getting another illness.
Most importantly, the overuse of antibiotics has created bacteria that are becoming resistant to the antibiotics we have available. This makes it extremely difficult for some to improve without complications from antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Over 2 million people are infected with a resistant bacterium where nearly 23,000 people end up dying as a result.
An antibiotic is not necessary for the common cold, bronchitis, the flu, most sinus infections, and sore throats. Up to 70% of antibiotics given are not needed. That means that 7 out of 10 of us take an antibiotic for an acute respiratory infection or something similar that we did not really need. That causes a cascade of effects making our bodies weaker in the long run. Antibiotics are necessary for the treatment of urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and strep throat.
What Can I do to Stay Healthy?
There are many things you can do to stay healthy. Healthy lifestyle habits of having a good diet, drinking plenty of water, getting enough sleep and exercise regularly will help your body fight off infection when exposed. Also taking a daily vitamin and probiotic will help to maximize your body’s ability to fight infection. That doesn’t always work, so when you start feeling like you may be getting a cold, you can begin a supplement like OlivDefense. This is a supplement we have at the Couri Center that lessens symptoms and limits the duration of your illness. It promotes immune function and provides antioxidant activity. Resting and drinking plenty of water when you feel something coming on also makes a big difference in limiting your symptoms.
Stay warm and healthy this winter.
Renee Alwan Percell, MMS PA-C