Antibiotic Overprescribing Continues
The trend of overprescribing antibiotics doesn’t appear to be slowing down. The overuse of antibiotics has given rise to multi-drug-resistant bacteria or “superbugs”. Each year these superbugs are responsible for 400,000 infections, 2.5 million hospital days and 25,000 deaths in Europe alone. The annual cost to the European economy (in U.S. dollars) works out to about $1.3 billion dollars a year in hospital stays and another $900 million in lost productivity.
One study looked at the practice of prescribing antibiotics for sinus infections (sinusitis) in the United States and found that “acute sinusitis is diagnosed in over 3 million visits annually among adults and children in the United States. Of these, more than 80% result in an antibiotic prescription; however, many of these prescriptions may be unnecessary, since sinusitis is most often of viral origin and benefits of antibiotics may be limited.” Antibiotics generally have little effect on viruses, they are designed to combat bacterial infections.
Another study examined the relationship between when children first took antibiotics and the likelihood that they would develop inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The study found that the earlier that a child first took antibiotics, the greater their chance o developing IBD:
<1 year old – 450% more likely than a child who hadn’t taken antibiotics
5 years old – 160% more likely
15 years old – 50% more likely
In addition, children who took two or more courses of antibiotics increased their chances of IBD almost 150% over those who took a single course of antibiotics.
It’s impossible to emphasis this enough: All drugs have side effects. Taking antibiotics for ailments that have little chance of responding to antibiotics has the potential to harm your health and make it harder for your body to resist bacterial infections in the future.