The Antibiotic Resistant Superbug Is Here, What Can You Do?

FILE - In this Oct. 8, 2013, file photo, a sign marks the entrance to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Guidelines released Monday, Jan. 18, 2016, from CDC and the American College of Physicians, move beyond simple statements that antibiotics don't work for viruses like the common cold or the flu. They lay out how doctors begin deciding if antibiotics are warranted for some other common respiratory complaints, explain that decision to patients and offer guidance on symptom relief. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

We are exposed to antibiotics through various sources. It is of course in the medicine that we take, but it’s also in the meat that we eat. Animals are often given antibiotics and hormones to fight infections, but also to make animals grow faster while feeding them less.

The overuse of antibiotics has been a growing concern for many years. It’s this over usage that has caused bacteria to evolve and become resistant to the medications we have available. “The bugs get smarter over time. The more antibiotics you use the more chance they have to mutate and actually build a resistance to the antibiotics,” Dr. Mark Harrison said.

Dr. Harrison has even seen it happen here in Mobile, “When I started 14 years ago it was unheard of to see children with ear infections and MRSA. Now, we’re starting to see that and we’re having to treat them with drugs that we would never have 10 years ago.”

According to the CDC, each year more than 2-million Americans become sick with a drug-resistant bacteria, and more than 23,000 of them die.

Recently, a Pennsylvania woman contracted an antibiotic-resistant superbug that would not respond to “the last resort” antibiotic, Colistin.

Many doctors believe it’s time to rethink our options as far as treatment goes.

“It’s a wake-up call for all of us to question whether or not we really need antibiotics– and for the government to really push these new methods through the pipeline to help us, ” Dr. David Agus said.

Dr. Jimmy Steger, who practices holistic medicine, says that antibiotics are not the answer, “You can’t keep running to drugs and antibiotics expecting it to work. It works temporarily because it’s a band-aid approach.”

Antibiotics may not be the answer but trying to convince patients of that sometimes proves difficult. “For most patients it can be tough to tell them that they don’t need an antibiotic,” Dr. Harrison said.”

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