If vaccines are the true miracles of modern medicine, antibiotics are no slouches:
Antibiotics and similar drugs, together called antimicrobial agents, have been used for the last 70 years to treat patients who have infectious diseases. Since the 1940s, these drugs have greatly reduced illness and death from infectious diseases. Antibiotic use has been beneficial and, when prescribed and taken correctly, their value in patient care is enormous. [CDC]
You may have noticed that your doctor has lately become stingy in prescribing antibiotics for common illnesses. One reason is that evidence-based medical science tells us antibiotics are simply not necessary to treat every common infection: many children and adults can resolve ear infections, sinus infections, and cough illnesses with their healthy immune systems alone, without the use of antibiotics. This is important because, as every pediatrician knows, antibiotics can be very difficult to give to children and, more importantly, they can cause many severe side effects. But the most important reason why physicians are using fewer antibiotics is the ominous emergence of resistant bacteria in our community workplaces, child-care centers, schools, and hospitals.
Tomorrow, The PediaBlog will explore what’s behind the creation of what one expert calls a “global crisis.”