Just a few years ago, antibiotics were vastly overprescribed and considered to be “wonder drugs” that could cure pretty much anything. However, recent studies have warned the medical profession and the general public about the dangers of antibiotic resistance and the ineffectiveness of antibiotics for certain symptoms and conditions. These days, it’s not uncommon to see a sign posted in your doctor’s office advising of the various reasons why antibiotics will not be prescribed because patients have gotten so used to receiving them.
So, to set the record straight, here are some examples of when you might truly need antibiotics and benefit from them, as well as some antibiotic alternatives when a more natural approach is recommended.
What Antibiotics Do
Antibiotics are designed to treat bacterial infections, not viral infections. Bacterial infections that antibiotics are effective in treating include urinary tract infections, strep throat, pneumonia, and infections of the skin. However, antibiotics do not treat common viral infections like colds, the flu, and bronchitis. Some types of infections can be either bacterial or viral, such as a sinus infection or ear infection. A doctor should determine the cause of the infection and treat it accordingly rather than prescribing antibiotics “just in case” bacteria is to blame.
The Dangers of Antibiotics
While antibiotics are wonderful and absolutely essential for certain purposes, some healthcare providers have relied on them too much and prescribed them to patients for conditions that can’t actually be treated with antibiotics. Meanwhile, patients have pressured doctors into giving them antibiotics as a “quick fix” – sometimes without even having a physical examination.
The over-prescribing of antibiotics has contributed to antibiotic-resistant bacteria that is difficult to treat and keep under control. This means that patients will be needing increasingly stronger antibiotics to treat conditions that are actually responsive to antibiotics. When oral antibiotics aren’t strong enough, it may be necessary to switch to very strong and more invasive IV medications instead that come with added risks and side effects.
Alternatives to Antibiotics
When you and your healthcare provider determine that antibiotics aren’t necessary or won’t be effective in treating your condition, it’s time to explore other alternative ways to help you feel better. Garlic is a natural food that has been used all around the world for medicinal purposes, as well as honey for skin conditions. Ginger is known to be a natural antibiotic, while echinacea may also be effective when you have an infection. You can try goldenseal as a supplement or tea for the treatment of infections, and the culinary herb of oregano is known for its antibacterial and anti-fungal properties.
But before trying any of these home remedies on your own though, it is strongly recommended to discuss your treatment options with a trained medical professional. Prescription antibiotics aren’t the enemy, as they have saved millions of people from otherwise fatal conditions. But it’s important to know what they can and cannot do so that you can make the most informed decisions about your health.