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Use And Misuse Of Antibiotics

In the past, we have committed a number of blunders vis--vis the use of antibiotics and, hence, it is very imperative for us to realize these mistakes so that we do not repeat them again. In fact, every one of us needs to be conscious about where we made errors as well as the reasons behind such mistakes.

Frequently, antibiotics are prescribed for treating viral infections, including flu, colds, herpes infections, glandular fever and even gastroenteritis. However, it is surprising to note that antibiotics do not have any function in treating viral infections, since they are incapable of eliminating or inhibiting the growth of viruses. There are times when viral infections deteriorates the immune system, especially in some at-risk' groups, such as aged people, the children and in post-surgery or any other trauma patients. Consequently, a viral infection may occasionally result in the development of a minor bacterial contagion. In fact, antibiotics are actually prescribed to patients suffering from viral infections to treat such secondary bacterial infections. Therefore, it would be more sensible to wait a while to observe if the patient develops a secondary bacterial infection prior to prescribing them antibiotics. In such cases, patients suffering from viral infections should be first treated with natural remedies if the immune system of people at risk requires to be boosted. In effect, antibiotics should only be used when they are absolutely indispensable in preventing the development of a secondary bacterial infection.

Precisely speaking, bacteria are single celled organisms having a cell wall, a plasma membrane and also enclosing genetic materials. Antibiotics have the aptitude to exterminate bacteria by means of smashing up different parts of a bacterial cell, for instance, penicillin harms the cell wall.

It may be noted that unlike bacteria, viruses are not living bodies and do not have a cell wall or plasma membrane. Therefore, viruses are incapable of performing any chemical reactions and also cannot multiply on their own. Since viruses do not enclose structures that can be attacked by antibiotics, these medications are actually useless against viruses. This will hopefully make it clear as to why antibiotics are only effective in treating bacterial infections, while being useless in treating viral infections.

In effect, often antibiotics are also given to treat comparatively trivial infections that could otherwise be cured using other simpler methods. In most cases, no treatment is required at all to cure an infection, since you body has the ability to combat the infection by itself. However, when required, this fight back by the body may be assisted in other natural ways. Remember, it is very important to allow your body to combat an infection, as this would let you develop a natural resistance to the exacting infection. One should only get involved when it is found that the body is not able to sustain the fight or win against the infection. At the same time, it is important to bear in mind that antibiotics do not have the aptitude to eliminate bacteria straightaway, as it is commonly believed. In fact, antibiotics only help to inhibit the growth of bacterial cells. Therefore, it is up to your immune system to perform the remaining task.

As aforementioned, antibiotics are extremely beneficial in treating bacterial contagions. However, it is unfortunate that they are not being prescribed as well as taken carefully. There are several instances when patients also coerce their physicians to prescribe antibiotics for them and, the physicians, who ought to know better, are also very eager to abide by even when the cause of their patient's problems does not have any association with bacterial in infection. Such negligence on the part of the physician as well as the patient is the basic reason behind the occurrence of bacterial resistance that is currently making antibiotics useless.

In effect, antibiotics are considered to be potential life-saving medicaments and signify an amazing advancement made by medical science. When antibiotics first appeared on the market, it was believed that the bane of contagious ailments would be gone perpetually and the human race may live in a world that is virtually infection-free.

Unfortunately, what has happened is somewhat different. In fact, every bacterium which the antibiotics are meant to eliminate is proving the medicament to be useless. At the same time, there is an alarming rise in bacterial resistance. The situation has come to such a pass that the doctors working in hospitals are very anxious regarding their future.

All over Europe, doctors have also issued warning regarding the disturbing rise in bacterial resistance to antibiotics and have advised general practitioners to adopt more caution while prescribing antibiotic medicines. As a potential patient, you too can assist your physician by talking about the options available with him or her and by asking them to prescribe natural medications.

The terrifying truth in this regard is abuse of antibiotics. In effect, misuse of antibiotic drugs have turned out to be the main health hazard for public and it is apprehended that very soon, common infections are unlikely to respond to treatment with antibiotic drugs whatsoever. Owing to such excessive use as well as misuse of antibiotic drugs, we have actually ignored the fact that nature possesses its own ways of combating back-producing multi-resistant bacterial strains. Paradoxically, we must now look to nature as well as natural medicines to get out of this quandary.

The hazards of antibiotic overuse

Excessive antibiotic use has the potential to result in numerous problems. For some patients, even the main use of antibiotics may prove to be life-threatening. In case antibiotics like penicillin are not used appropriately or used for a very brief period, there is a possibility of bacteria developing resistance to these drugs. Subsequently, resistant strains become capable of neutralizing the impact of penicillin when they come in contact with them again. Thus, the drugs begin to turn out to be useless. Basically, a drug becomes ineffective when several types of bacteria develop resistance to it. Consequently, more potent antibiotics need to be combined and manufactured. Nevertheless, bacterial resistance is developing at a much faster rate compared to the pace at which pharmaceutical companies are capable of manufacturing new antibiotics.

Excessive use of antibiotics has made allergic reactions owing to the use of these drugs more and more widespread. Earlier, only five per cent to 10 per cent of people using antibiotics, especially penicillin, suffered from allergic reactions. As an increasing number of people are being exposed to antibiotics these days frequently, the number of people developing allergic reactions is also increasing. Allergic reactions caused by misuse and overuse may vary from skin rash to edema (accumulation of fluid in the intercellular spaces of the tissues causing tissue swelling) to anaphylactic (acute sensitivity to a substance anaphylaxis) reactions, such as bronchospasm (constraint of the air passages) as well as shock. Such reactions are not confined to using antibiotics belonging to the penicillin group alone. In addition, such allergic reactions may also take place owing to the use of tetracyclines and cephalosporins.

In effect, antibiotics like amoxicillin and tetracycline have the aptitude to disturb the beneficial intestinal bacteria, for instance, Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidus. Such interference may result in intestinal disorders, like flatulence, diarrhea as well as bloating (swelling of the abdomen). Now there is enough proof to establish that disturbing the beneficial intestinal bacteria is likely to contribute to bowel disorders, for instance cancer of the colon and ulcerative colitis.

The disturbance of the beneficial intestinal bacteria may result in another problems and that is overgrowth of fungi and yeast in the bowel that may cause intestinal candidiasis (infections caused by fungi of the genus Candida). In fact, this is one of the main health hazards confronted by people in the West and it is said to concur with the excessive use of antibiotics. Earlier, candidiasis was considered to be an ailment that occurred to people who have a very weak immune system, for instance, in infants whose immune system is still in the developing stage; among the aged people whose immune system is deteriorating as well as in patients whose immune system has been repressed owing to some reason, like prolonged use of steroids. In the 1990s, it was found that intestinal candidiasis has begun to affect people of all age groups and all types. This is enough indication of the fact that the immunity of people is under threat.

It has also been found that antibiotic medicaments have an oppressive impact on the immune system. Specific antibiotic drugs, such as tetracycline and the sulphonamides, have the ability to slow down the actions of the white blood cells that overcome and eliminate bacteria. There are other antibiotic drugs that are said to slow down the production of antibody, thereby, reducing the immunity of the body. In addition, antibiotics have also demonstrated that they are able to enhance the possibility of recurring infections. Researches made public in 1974 and very recently in 1991 have demonstrated that children suffering from earaches and have taken antibiotic medicaments in the initial stages of the complaint, were more prone to develop ear problems compared to those who delayed treatment or children who were given placebo. It is now widely accepted in conventional medical circles that physicians ought to either hold-up treatment of earache or not take care of them whatsoever.

In effect, this document endorses other substantiation that demonstrates that antibiotic medicaments can definitely repress an individual's natural immune response to an infection and are also able to create a situation wherein infection occurs repeatedly.

The hazards of using particular antibiotics

Besides the common health problems caused by the excessive use of antibiotic drugs, for instance allergic reaction and bacterial resistance, using specific antibiotics may also prove to be hazardous owing to their precise actions inside the body.

Chloramphenicol is known to lessen the white blood cell count, especially the sort of white cells that combat bacteria in attacking the body-granulocytes. In exceptional cases, around one in 100,000, chloramphenicol is able to result in death by repressing activities of the bone marrow. Although this antibiotic drug has been withdrawn from the markets in North America and Europe, it is still used in several African nations.

A number of tetracyclines are available in the market, including doxycycline, democlocycline, minocycline, tetracycline and oxytetracycline. These antibiotic medicaments have the potential to destroy the developing bones and teeth of fetus and children under the age of seven. Such reactions take place as tetracyclines bind to calcium phosphate, thereby enabling the drug to be soaked up by bones and teeth. This, in turn, causes harm to the dental enamel with pitting, results in yellow or brown staining of the teeth and, at the same time, augments the vulnerability to the dental cavities.

It is known that tetracyclines diminish the intensity of a number of B vitamins in the body as these antibiotic medicaments upset the degree of absorption of these vitamins in the bowel. Besides, tetracyclines also have the aptitude to upset the bowel's bacterial flora. Moreover, use of tetracyclines may also result in diarrhea, particularly when they are used for a prolonged period. Although somewhat rare, tetracyclines also have the aptitude to raise the blood pressure in the region of the brain in a health condition known as benign intracranial hypertension.

As is evident from the above statements, tetracyclines are potentially fairly harmful antibiotic medicaments. Generally, these antibiotic medicaments are prescribed for lasting treatment of acne during teenage years and are used for around three to six months. In some cases, they are also used for about a year. The anti-tuberculosis medication streptomycin plus kanamycin, gentamicin, neomycin, tobramycin and amikacin comprise tetracyclines. These medicaments are generally used to cure infections wherein the invading bacteria result in infections of the urinary tract, wound contagions following bowel surgery and peritonitis (inflammation of the peritoneum - a thin lucid serous sac that lines the walls of the abdominal cavity). It may be noted that this specific type of antibiotic medications are rather noxious, since the drugs they enclose have the potential to harm the auditory nerve and cause deafness. All the antibiotic medications in this group also have the aptitude to damage the kidneys and result in skin rashes as well as fevers brought about by their use.

The medicaments in the sulfonamide group comprise sulfadiazine, sulfacytine, sulfamethiazole, sulfisoxazole and sulfamethoxazole. Use of these drugs have the potential to result in grave side effects, which may include several types of allergic reactions, for instance, fever, skin rash, hepatitis, aplastic anemia and poor white blood cell count. In addition, using sulfonamides may also result in diarrhea and crystal formation in the urine. Moreover, it has also been found that use of sulfonamides may cause diabetes mellitus (type 1 diabetes or insulin dependent diabetes) and pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). The comparatively minor side effects of using sulfonamides may include headache, nausea, malaise (depression) and vomiting. However, these side effects are usually temporary.

Precautions necessary when using antibiotics

There may be occasions when taking antibiotic medicaments may become indispensible. Although you may be required to take antibiotics in some cases, you may follow a few steps to counterbalance or neutralize the adverse effects of antibiotic drugs and, at the same time, to obtain the utmost benefits of using them or making them very useful to cure our health conditions. Here are some guidelines that you ought to follow while taking antibiotic medicaments to help you to obtain the optimum benefits from them.

  • If you are taking antibiotic medicaments, also take live yogurt or additional bacterial supplements, for instance, acidophilus capsules, to avoid harming the beneficial intestinal bacteria, which are vital for healthy bowel. If you are taking tetracyclines, ensure that you also use acidophilus capsules in place of yogurt as tetracyclines have the capacity to attach to dairy products containing calcium. This, in turn, slows down the absorption of calcium by the walls of the intestine into the blood stream.
  • Again, if you are taking any antibiotic medicament, you should also take vitamin C concurrently since vitamin C has the reputation of improving the intensity of blood of specific antibiotics, thereby making them more useful. In this case, the recommended dose of vitamin C is 2,000 mg to 3,000 mg every day.
  • While taking antibiotic medicaments, you should also use an immune booster to help the immune system of your body to respond appropriately to any bacterial infection, since some available evidence hints that antibiotics have the potential to repress different parts of the immune system.
  • Always ensure that you are taking the antibiotic medicaments for the entire period they have been prescribed for by your physician. In fact, if you stop taking the antibiotics before completing the course it would support the development of bacterial resistance and make it even more difficult to treat the disease if it reoccurs.
  • Before you start using any antibiotic medicament, you ought to insist on being familiar with all the possible side effects they may cause. You may talk to your physician or pharmacist for help in this regard.

Before concluding this documentation, it needs to be emphasized that antibiotic medicaments should always be used as the only remaining option and not as the first available medicament. If all other medications fail to cure the health complaint, you may try taking antibiotics. If people go by this rule, antibiotic medicaments would eventually become an omission instead of a rule. As a result of this bacterial resistance would not only decline, but also turn out to be a lesser health hazard.

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