Before you take your first azithromycin, read what some researchers said in an article in the British Medical Journal. They said it simply – “the antibiotic course has had its day” and that we needed to look at whether a full course of antibiotic treatment was necessary.
Yes, antibiotics are still the way to get rid of an infection. But the main assumption is that you must take all the antibiotics prescribed in order to kill it entirely. This is so that no bacteria remains and becomes resistant.
The CDC said in a report that almost a third of all prescriptions for antibiotics are completely unnecessary. In the US, that’s about 47 million incorrect prescriptions. They are being handed out for viruses like bronchitis and colds, which will not be cured by the treatment.
What's worse is when we hurt the positive things in our bodies. Antibiotics kill good germs sitting in our digestive tract that help life-threatening ones like Clostridium difficile grow. That bacteria has killed hundreds of thousands of Americans a year.
The man who discovered penicillin, Alexander Fleming, was warning us as far back as the 1940s. He said that using antibiotics to treat non-bacterial diseases would lead to antibiotic resistance. No one listened, and we’re still abusing it at record levels, propping up resistance.
Health experts in the journal Science said that we should keep it to nine doses of antibiotics per person yearly. This is the best way to protect ourselves from resistant “superbugs” according to them. This would still be enough for those with compromised immune systems or surgery patients.
There are some that actually need long-term dosage. Tuberculosis still requires a long course, but that has nothing to do with resistance. Most other infections still have the same level of cure rates with a smaller course, however.
Every regimen is different for a different type of patient. An older person and younger person do not need the same amount of dosage. Some infections like a UTI only need it for three days max. Antibiotics to fight infections like pneumonia have very specific durations and regimens depending if it was acquired outside or in a hospital.
Healthcare providers will have to find new ways to talk to their patients about prescribing antibiotics. Doctors sometimes work on experience and intuition, not scientific evidence. It will be difficult to phase out decades of established traditional systems.
There are guidelines and tool kits made for healthcare providers by the CDC and The Infectious Diseases Society of America. The problem is, since there aren’t many new antibiotics coming in the near future, it will be the efforts of patients themselves to take control of their doses. They need to create their own personal plans that use antibiotics appropriately.
The consequence is disastrous if we don't start taking them the right way. Antibiotic resistance could potentially lead to a death count of 10 million people by 2050. This is all from what could be a simple as a scratch on your arm.
Listen to the advice of your doctor, for starters. Don't toss out the paperwork that comes with your medication, give them a look for once. If you're not too sure about things, talk to your pharmacist.