The Downside of Antibiotics

Antibiotics are strong medicines that help to stop infections. Since their discovery they have saved the lives of hundreds of millions of people worldwide and continue to play an important role in modern day medicine. Unfortunately when they are used too much, or for the wrong types of sicknesses, they can have undesirable consequences. Below are 3 common problems associated with the use of antibiotics, and are a good indication of why Americans should consider natural remedies whenever possible.

Antibiotics Don’t Work Against Viral Infections

Antibiotics are not required for all types of illnesses. In fact, they only work against infections caused by bacteria. Bacteria are living organisms that are not considered plans or animals. They are individual cells that are microscopic, but multiply very fast, often resulting in millions of them together causing a stubborn infection. To combat these pesky invaders we use antibiotics which are produced by microorganisms (often molds) which don’t want to share their nutrients with the bacteria. Viruses, on the other hand, are smaller than bacteria and have an outer casing that prevents antibiotics from being able to kill them. If you use an antibiotic for a viral infection, it will not cure it, but rather build up resistance to the medication.

Antibiotics Kill Good and Bad Bacteria

Our bodies need bacteria in order to function. Good bacteria, called commensals, are vital for digesting food, producing essential vitamins and other important body functions. Unfortunately antibiotics cannot tell the difference between good and bad bacteria. If your doctor is not sure what the exact type of bacteria is that is causing the infection, he/she will likely prescribe a broad-spectrum antibiotic. This will treat a wide range of possible infections and will essentially wipe out all the good bacteria in the region along the way. A narrow-spectrum antibiotic will be used if there are only a few possible types of bacteria that could be causing the infection and will reduce the amount of good bacteria lost. Sometimes your doctor will prescribe you probiotics to replenish this lost flora to prevent diarrhea and other symptoms that come up when your good bacteria is down in numbers.

Regular Use Builds Up Resistance

If you use antibiotics too frequently or have used an especially strong dose to wipe out an infection there is a good chance that remaining bacteria will become resistant to them. When bacteria are exposed to antibiotics, but not killed, they begin to develop a way to overcome the reaction to the antibiotics. This is problematic because overtime the antibiotics become ineffective and the bacteria adapt into these superbugs that cannot be killed by any medicines that we have available.

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