Question: Dear Dr Harvey,
I have seen a number of articles in the news regarding the overuse of antibiotics and its possible harmful side effects. I am concerned because I have taken lots of antibiotics myself in the past. What is your opinion with regard to the overuse of antibiotics?
You're right; there has been a lot of press on this issue. One recent study found that doctors wrote 12 billion antibiotic prescriptions in a single year for colds, bronchitis, and other respiratory infections against which the drugs are almost always useless!
"We estimate 50 million prescriptions for oral antibiotics are written unnecessarily every year," says Benjamin Schwartz, epidemiologist at the CDCP in Atlanta. "That's a third of the total."
More than 90 percent of upper respiratory infections, including bronchitis and colds, are caused by viruses and are therefore impervious to antibiotics, researchers noted in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
This indiscriminate use of antibiotics has contributed to the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria, a growing problem in the United States, the researchers said.
Every time we use an antibiotic, we run the risk of promoting antibiotic resistance or drug resistance of bacteria, according to the researchers. Drug resistance has been blamed on overuse of antibiotics.
One of the results of all this overuse is that pneumococcus- the leading cause of bacterial meningitis, a bloodstream infections and ear infections - is already resistant to penicillin in 20% of cases, and resistant to certain sulfa drugs in 25% of cases nationwide.
Currently, approximately two-thirds of Americans are taking medication of some kind, either over-the-counter or prescription. It is common for people over the age of 60 to be taking 5 or more medications a day! To say that we are an overmedicated society would be a gross understatement.
It is my opinion that when people become sick they should first try alternative approaches to treatment. These would include chiropractic, which reduces the pressure on the nervous system, therefore allowing the body to function better and the immune system to work at its maximum effectiveness. The use of extra vitamins and herbs is very effective. Acupuncture and Oriental medicine have been used for thousands of years for the treatment of disease. Massage therapy to increase circulation and more the lymph system is also very helpful.
At my clinic we use all of the above healing arts to help the body fight off disease with no side effects.
On a personal note, I have never taken an antibiotic, nor have many of my patients. If you keep your bodily functions at a higher level, get adjusted regularly, take the right vitamins and herbs, and exercise regularly, I believe you will need much less medication, if any.
©2009 Dr. Harvey