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Antibiotics: The Good and the Bad


Before antibiotics, what did doctors use to treat infections, such as strep throat? There is no question about the fact that there are wonderful aspects to antibiotics. These drugs are used to treat many bacterial infections, from pneumonia to impetigo. But there are negatives to these drugs, and as a consumer and a patient you need to know the difference.

The Good Side of Antibiotics

Antibiotics are in many ways great in that they can cure many illnesses. These days when “flesh-eating bacteria” are terrorizing schools, the ability for antibiotics to cure such infections does bring comfort to American society. Illnesses that can be cured by antibiotics include sinus infections, kidney infections, bladder infections, and many other types of infections. In addition to the variety of infections antibiotics can fight, there is also a wide variety of antibiotics. There are tetracyclines, streptomycins and many other varieties.

The Bad Side of Antibiotics

Still, there are negatives when it comes to antibiotics. The first group of negatives is the side effects that accompany many of these antibiotics. Antibiotics often act without regard for the type of bacteria they are designed to attack. In other words, they do not know the difference between the good and the bad. This can often lead to an intense lowering of the natural flora in a person’s body the result of which can lead to everything from diarrhea to yeast infections.

Then, there is also the risk of creating antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria. When antibiotics are given and not taken completely, this can lead to stronger strains of the bacteria. Also, when doctors prescribe antibiotics for viral infections, such as the common cold and the flu, they are also adding to this danger.

What can You Do?

Most physicians suggest that there are several ways you can use antibiotics so that they work effectively and are not harmful to you or your child. The first way is to take the full prescribed amount. Also, do not use antibiotics that are old, even a few weeks old. Refrain from using a family member’s antibiotics and do not hoard extra antibiotics for the next time you may become sick.

Abu Abdullah • November 10, 2009

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