EssyJayNZ via Flickr

EssyJayNZ via Flickr

One of the most frustrating office visits still can be when a patient comes in seeking an antibiotic prescription even though the clinical information does not warrant one.

I admit it, in the olden days, before we really knew as much as we do now about antibiotics and resistant bacteria, I was in the group of physicians who used antibiotics regularly- especially in children.

It is a miracle class of drugs that can save lives.  Back then, it was negligent if you didn’t cover an infection well and the patient developed a complication. Now, you can get sued or even kill a patient with even the appropriate use of antibiotics.

It’s a complicated story but in general, the past 60+ years of regular antibiotic use not only in medicine (highly regulated), but also in the food industry (poorly regulated) has changed the whole bacterial landscape.

In short, using antibiotics in feed for animals and plants destined for our tables has allowed for cheaper and high volume of production, but the side effects are viruses and bacteria that are resistant or can mutate to survive some front line antibiotics.

In a very common complication of antibiotic use, even the appropriate use of a common medication like amoxicillin or penicillin (like for a dental infection or for a strep throat infection) can cause a change in the bacterial composition of the intestines and can cause overgrowth of specific clostridium bacteria or yeast that can cause frequent or bloody diarrhea, dehydration, intestinal inflammation and in severe cases, perforation, sepsis and death.

So for every doctor’s visit, try to be honest, accurate and totally open about any complaints, symptoms, signs or concerns to increase the chance of the correct diagnosis.

And instead of being disappointed or irritated that an antibiotic was not issued consider it a blessing that you don’t need one this time.

About the author

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Dr. Carol

Dr. Carol- doctor, wife, mom and maker PB&J!
One of my passions is to help people Embrace change, Try new things and be BOLD for a healthier and balanced life!


    • You are allergic to 4 antibiotics! Please don’t ever get sick Jennifer because you will most certainly make your doctor earn his or he r pay looking for a suitable antibiotic for you.

  • I always ask if I really need the antibiotic (or more diplomatically, if the doctor thinks I have a virus or a bacterial infection). The last time, I suspect I may have prolonged the cough, but I did eventually get over it and back on my feet.

    • Can we get more patients like you Anne? The work of convincing and converting people to the gospel of less antibiotic use can be tedious. I suspect that a lot of my colleagues simply choose the simple route of “giving em what they want”.

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