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Danger of Antibiotics misuse

Antibiotics are a group of medications that are indicated to treat bacterial infections. When they are used inappropriately, they can cause major complications that can be detrimental to the individual abuser and even to the community.

Medical Doctors and other health care professionals have the necessary knowledge to differentiate between a bacterial infection versus a viral infection. Flu, Common Cold and certain other gastrointestinal disorders are of viral origin and as such are self limited most of the time and don’t require Antibiotics use.

Repetitive unnecessary use of antibiotics contributes to the emergence of resistant organisms and can cause  the following complications : Antibiotic-associated diarrhea like Clostridium Difficile Colitis (often seen in elderly treated with Clindamycin and other broad-spectrum antibiotics), Fungal infection of mouth and genitals (vagina, glans penis).

The following side effects can be linked to antibiotics: Deafness (when taking Erythromycin and Gentamycin), Blindness (when taking Ethambutol, a medication used for Tuberculosis treatment), Kidney Stones (with Sulfa antibiotics), Sensitivity to sun (when taking Tetracyclines), Blood disorder (when taking Trimethoprim), Achilles Tendon Rupture (with Ciprofloxacin) …

Allergic reactions can be seen during Antibiotic therapy. They can be as simple as rash and facial swelling. Some reactions  may be  more serious and sometimes life-threatning  like: Respiratory Distress and Anaphylactic syndrome, especially with Penicillins. Allergy with one Antibiotic precludes someone from taking another one from the same family of Antibiotics. For example if one is alllergic to Penicillin, he/she can’t take Amoxicillin and  Ampicillin; because they belong to the same group.

Insufficient Antibiotic treatment can left serious diseases like Syphilis go untreated for a long time resulting in disastrous complications like: Aortitis, Uveitis, Neuro-Syphilis,etc..

Use of expired Antibiotics like Tetracycline can cause Fanconi Syndrome, a condition that affects the kidneys.

A long list of Antibiotics are contraindicated during pregnancy (for example, Tetracyclines can cause staining of the fetus teeth and other fetal risks).

Some Antibiotics can interact with other medications and cause cardiac arrhythmias.  Penicillins an Cephalosporins may compromise the effectiveness of Oral Contraceptives.

Antibiotics should only be used when prescribed by a health care professional who will indicate the dosage, the timing and the length of the treatment. Each group of Antibotic is indicated for one type of infection rather then another one. Your doctor knows the most likely germs that are responsible for your upper respiratory, genito-urinary tract, gastrointestinal infection. Knowing the likely germs help him/her choose the right Antibiotic. Not one Antibiotic can cure all the bacterial infections.

Conditions like: Common Cold, Sore Throat, Flu (other viral infections), Intestinal Parasites, Food Poisoning, Menstrual Periods, Migraine… don’t require antibiotic therapy.

Let’s stop the Antibiotic abuse & misuse to foster a healthier community.

 

Dr Claude Resil

Internal Medicine

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