April 2013 What is a carb?
According to the general public, media, untrained physicians and any author who wants to make money with a diet book, carbs are foods made from grains like bread, pasta and rice. This is simply not true....
March 2013 Getting Brain Tastical
The secret to making a good movie is the director. He guides the crew, the equipment and the key players to create a cohesive masterpiece. our brain is the director of our bodies and of the epic films we call our lives.
It’s already November, and that means that Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s are just around the corner. It’s one of my favorite times of year. As the days grow shorter and temperatures drop, however, it also means that cold and flu season is just around the corner. Sore throats, earaches, and other not-so-fun illnesses often peak during the wet and rainy months. This often means a trip to the doctor and, very often, a request for prescription antibiotics.
Antibiotics have been successfully used for over 70 years to treat many bacterial infections. They have saved countless lives over the last half century and saved many of us from enduring weeks of illness and suffering waiting for a severe bacterial infection to clear. Unfortunately, antibiotics have been widely overused and misused during the past several decades, leading to strains of antibiotic resistant bacteria. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) lists antibiotic resistance as one of the world’s most pressing public health threats. Health officials estimate that nearly 70,000 Americans were killed last year by drug resistant infections. It is therefore paramount that we do our part, as patients, to make sure we are using antibiotics safely and responsibly.
One of the most important things we can do to help stop the increase of antibiotic resistance is to stop using them as a cure-all. Over-prescription of antibiotics in our country and around the world is a great concern. Antibiotics will only work against bacteria – not viruses. The common cold is caused by a virus, not bacteria. Similarly, most sore throats (with the exception of strep throat), most earaches, and most acute bronchitis are also caused by viruses (CDC). That means that antibiotics will NOT cure the viral infection, will NOT help you feel better, and will NOT keep others from getting sick. In fact, it may do more harm than good. In children, antibiotics are the number one cause of emergency department visits for adverse drug events. Instead of insisting on an antibiotic when your doctor says they are not needed, drink plenty of fluids, get plenty of rest, and ask your doctor or community pharmacist about over-the-counter treatment options that may help you feel better until your immune system gets rid of the virus on its own.
If you do have a bacterial infection and your doctor or nurse practitioner does prescribe antibiotics, make sure you properly follow all directions given to you. Antibiotics are typically given in a 10-day course, meaning that you will be taking the antibiotic once or twice a day for 10 days (some are for 7 days, others for 14). The important thing is that you complete the course of antibiotics completely. Many individuals will begin to feel better after a day or so of taking antibiotics, and feel altogether cured before the course is completed. Stopping too soon allows bacteria to become resistant. The bacteria is not completely killed off and has the opportunity to adapt and mutate. The next time antibiotics are prescribed for that bacteria, they may be ineffective! That means that the next patient is more likely to have a longer, more expensive hospital stay – and may be more likely to die as a result of the infection.
Similarly, never share your antibiotics with someone else. The wrong antibiotic may be used against their bacterial infection, allowing the bacteria to develop resistance (CDC).
If you are prescribed antibiotics, make sure you have informed your doctor of any allergies you may have, if you are pregnant, if you are on birth control pills, etc. Ask questions and make sure you understand exactly how the antibiotics should be taken. (Should you avoid certain foods, or direct sunlight? Should they be taken on an empty or full stomach, etc.)
Buying meat that has not been treated with antibiotics can help encourage the meat industry to also stop over-using antibiotics on animals (which has also been linked to antibiotic resistant bacteria). It may seem like a small thing, but it really can make a difference.
If farmers, doctors, and patients all do their part, we can help slow down the growth of antibiotic resistant bacteria – allowing the miraculous benefits of antibiotics to be experienced when they are truly needed, by those that truly need them.