It’s cold and flu season and time again for a reminder. I always warn against taking antibiotics — unless absolutely necessary to treat a life-threatening infection.
In actuality, your body doesn’t really need them most of the time. In fact, with some time, rest, and patience, your healthy immune system will knock out most colds, viruses, and bacterial infections on its own.
In a moment, I’ll tell you about the seven most-common health conditions for which doctors frequently — and unnecessarily — prescribe antibiotics.
But first, let’s back up to talk a bit about two big problems with antibiotics…
Misuse of antibiotics causes a slew of major problems
Even the mainstream is beginning to acknowledge that taking antibiotics harms your microbiome, the environment in your GI tract where billions of healthy probiotic bacteria thrive.
Harming your microbiome, in turn, causes long-term digestion problems, and harms your body’s ability to absorb nutrients. It even damages your immune system — which protects you against diseases and infections — and cognitive function.
In a misguided attempt to avoid these outcomes, many doctors now recommend their patients take a probiotic supplement in conjunction with antibiotics.
But as I’ve always said — probiotic supplements simply don’t work. First of all, most probiotic supplements on the market don’t pack a natural array of different probiotic bacterial strains into one little pill. And your gut needs many different types for optimal health designed for you as an individual.
(To learn about safe and effective options to support your gut health, please refer to back to my recent Daily Dispatch, “Skip the probiotics — instead, try these five simple steps for improved gut health.” Simply enter the title in the search bar on my website, www.DrMicozzi.com.)
The second reason why I always advise against taking antibiotics is more global…
As I’m sure you’re well-aware, the overuse of antibiotics has led to the creation of antibiotic-resistant “super bugs,” such as Clostridium difficile.
(You can learn more about the dangers of superbugs and my natural solutions in the upcoming March 2019 issue of my Insiders’ Cures newsletter. If you’re not yet a subscriber, now’s the perfect time to get started…)
It used to be that you only picked up these superbugs in hospitals. But now, you can pick them up just about anywhere.
Plus…it turns out it’s not just a public health problem. The more antibiotics you take over your lifetime, the higher your own personal risk of getting one of these superbugs!
7 wrong reasons to take an antibiotic
In the end, only one-third of the prescriptions written each year are really appropriate. Of course, doctors know this. But they prescribe antibiotics anyway. Often because many patients still expect it.
So, here’s a list of the seven most-common conditions for which you should never take an antibiotic…
1. Cold or a flu
Both the common cold and the flu are caused by viral infections, which never respond to antibiotics.
And even if a cold or the flu develops into bronchitis and gets into your lower respiratory tract, it still won’t respond to an antibiotic (unless a secondary bacterial infection is diagnosed).
So, if you catch a cold or the flu this winter, and your doctor writes you a prescription for an antibiotic, I strongly advise against taking it. Instead, follow these steps for getting over it faster.
2. Sore throats
In most cases, sore throats are caused by viruses, and won’t respond to antibiotic treatment.
The exception is strep throat, which is bacterial and does require an antibiotic. Typically, strep throat will present as a sore throat with fever, swollen lymph glands in the neck, and/or little white or red spots on the palate. But no cough or post-nasal drip.
Of course, each person’s reaction to strep may be different. So, your doctor should always administer a rapid strep test before prescribing an antibiotic.
You may think you need an antibiotic if you’re running a fever. But that’s another medical myth. And not only do you not need an antibiotic, but you probably don’t need to treat the fever at all…even with an OTC fever reducer, such as ibuprofen.
In fact, as I explained earlier this month, fevers are your body’s natural way of fighting the infection. It helps slow the reproduction and spread of bacteria until your own immune system can catch up. (It’s like a natural antibiotic, without the side effects.)
Antibiotic drugs work the same way. But why use a drug when your body’s own natural defense system will do the same job — without the harmful side effects?
I explained all about which fevers you should — and shouldn’t — treat in the January 2019 issue of my Insiders’ Cures monthly newsletter
4. Acute sinusitis
This common condition usually shows up as a runny or stuffy nose and facial pain. And it’s almost always caused by a virus.
Even when bacteria are involved, the infection usually clears up on its own in about a week.
To soften and drain the mucus, drink warm fluids. I highly recommend warm or hot infusions of honey and lemon with ginger, turmeric, and other herbs to taste.
You can also boil a nice, big pot of water a few times and day. Then, drape a towel over your head and carefully breathe in the warm, moist steam. When lying down, stack up the pillows to keep your head elevated.
5. Pink eye (conjunctivitis)
Pink eye is also usually caused by a virus, or by an allergy. Even when bacterial, it usually goes away by itself within 10 days.
A damp, warm washcloth placed over the closed eye can help soothe itchiness and improve drainage. You can repeat several times a day. But always use a clean, fresh washcloth, so you don’t spread the infection.
6. Urinary treat infections (UTIs)
UTIs can be painful and highly inconvenient. But you don’t necessarily need to rush immediately to the doctor for an antibiotic.
From time to time, there may be some bacteria living in your bladder. But it’s not likely to cause an infection. In fact, even routine medical procedures can introduce bacteria into the urinary tract.
Be sure to stay hydrated and drink lots of water to flush out the infection. And of course, if f UTI symptoms persist — such as burning pain when urinating, or frequency and urgency (the need to go often) — antibiotics may be considered.
This condition commonly flares in the winter and causes dry, itchy, red skin. And sometimes doctors will prescribe antibiotics to try to help clear it. But the drugs won’t help with itching and redness.
Instead, moisturize your skin using soothing herbal preparations. And avoid triggers, which are unique to each individual.
In the end, instead of resorting to harmful and useless antibiotics for these seven common conditions, I recommend you:
- Patiently let your immune system deal with the infection
- Use natural remedies to ease symptoms — not mask them like OTC and prescription drugs
- Get some rest and drink plenty of fluids
- Use your sick days from work
I say skip the antibiotics. Skip the flu shot. And tune into my Daily Dispatch and monthly Insiders’ Cures newsletter to discover all the ways to safeguard your immune system — naturally.