Antibiotics Aren’t for Everything
Don’t get me wrong: I love antibiotics. I couldn’t call myself a doctor in good conscience if I didn’t. Antibiotics have saved countless lives. They’re part of the reason why we live in an age where people don’t dread every single infection and people don’t have to live through certain diseases these days. Antibiotics have improved our lives.
However, doctors prescribe them too much. I’ve seen doctors prescribe antibiotics for a cold, even though colds are viruses and antibiotics are not going to do anything for a cold. I see people take antibiotics for everything. We do that, and we end up with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. Researchers keep coming up with new antibiotics all the time. We’re always racing against the evolution of the bacteria. It is true that we keep on winning the race.
However, this is a race that isn’t fun, and your prize is that countless people don’t die from bacterial infections. I’d rather just not race to begin with, and doctors prescribing antibiotics less often is going to be part of the solution. We’re still going to need to keep on prescribing antibiotics for a lot of conditions. We’re also going to need to keep on coming up with new ones when the bacteria populations change.
If you have an infection, I don’t even think that antibiotics are always the answer. If it’s a minor infection, try treating it at home first. If you have a little paronychia on your fingers, for instance, you’re actually better off just soaking it in warm water, keeping the wound elevated, and trying to use some mildly salted water in order to kill all of the bacteria.
If the swelling goes down, you might be able to avoid the doctors altogether. If there’s some drainage, then you might not even need to get the wound lanced, which might just put you at risk for an additional infection. While some infections are more severe, many of them are also nowhere near severe enough to justify an immediate antibiotic prescription.
I mean, in addition to the fact that doing this is going to slow down the rate at which society at large gets a resistance to yet another antibiotic, you can save money and you can avoid putting yourself at risk for additional infections by going to the doctors.
Hospital-acquired infections are common these days, and hospitals don’t like to talk about them. Hospitals don’t want to admit that they’re not the safest places for people either, and people are usually better off staying home in some cases.
I want people to get antibiotics for those occasions where the body’s immune system is just not up to the task, and there are plenty of occasions where this is the case. However, sometimes you really can get by on your body’s own immunity and a few home remedies and if you can, save your money and make yourself feel better when you are still at home.