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Risks of antibiotic over-use

By Tim Sandle     Oct 5, 2013 in Health
Medics continue to over prescribe antibiotics for patients with sore throats. This over-use of antibiotics has serious implications, a new study reveals.
Many patients visit a doctor when they have a sore throat or are suffering from bronchitis. The patient may ask, or the doctor may elect to prescribe, antibiotics. In many cases the antibiotics will have no effect because the cause of the illness is a virus rather than a bacterium. The issue here is not only that the medication is useless, and a waste of money, it can actually cause harm.
The Digital Journal has covered the over-use of antibiotics previously. A report from the University of Utah found that when U.S. physicians prescribe antibiotics, more than 60 percent of the time they choose some of the strongest types of antibiotics. The concern here is that such ‘free use’ of antibiotics leads to more antibiotic resistant microorganisms in the community. Furthermore, a study published in the journal Nature found that a number of intestinal pathogens can cause problems after antibiotic administration.
A further study found that certain antibiotics, when used over a prolonged period of time, can trigger a phenomenon called oxidative stress. This effect is a condition in which human cells can be programmed into producing chemically reactive oxygen molecules. For the killing of the desired microorganism this is effective; however the damage caused to the DNA, enzymes and cell membranes of the bacteria can also affect the body’s own cells.
To add to the above, a study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine has found no let up in the over-use (and some would say 'misuse') of antibiotics. The research found that the U.S. prescribing rate for adults with sore throat held steady at around 60 percent from 1997 to 2010. But only around 10 percent of adults with sore throat are infected with group A Streptococcus—the only common cause of the symptom requiring antibiotics.
The lead researcher, Jeffrey Linder, a physician-researcher at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, told MedPage that “For individual patients, the compelling reason not to take antibiotics is they’re not going to help you and there’s a very real chance they’re going to hurt you."
More about Antibiotics, Overuse, Harmful, Medication, Bacteria
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