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NOT BORN YESTERDAY: What? No antibiotic?

By LINDA BROWN, Not Born Yesterday

Who among us hasn’t grumbled after a doctor’s visit where we’ve been given instructions to drink lots of liquids and get plenty of rest, but didn’t get an antibiotic to help us feel better faster?

Antibiotics can save lives by fighting bacterial infections, but they do nothing to help with colds, the flu or viral infections. Not only do they not help, they can in fact do more harm.

Luanne Freund, director at Vintage Park Assisted Living Center, 2250 S. Elm St., said it used to be fairly common for doctors to prescribe an antibiotic for everything from a sore throat to bronchitis, which typically is a virus.

“Now the medical community knows that over 140,000 emergency room visits each year are the result of antibiotic-related side effects,” she said. “And, if that’s not enough reason to cut back on prescription writing, we know now that overuse can lead to antibiotic resistance, which means these powerful drugs become less effective.”

Some of the side effects of the most popular antibiotics include the risk for retinal detachment, tendon rupture, especially the Achilles tendon and in the rotator cuffs, hands and thumbs. Some antibiotics have been discovered to increase cardiovascular mortality by five times when used by people with cardiovascular disease.

Freund said it’s important to talk to your doctor about any risks associated with an antibiotic if he/she prescribes one, follow the medication instructions and ask if there is an alternative option you can try before getting the prescription filled.

Linda Brown is marketing director for The Ottawa Herald. Email her at lbrown@ottawaherald.com

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