Antibiotics are an important part of healthcare. They are powerful drugs when used for the right reasons.
Understanding antibiotics was the focus of an O’Neill Healthcare Bay Village ‘Lunch & Learn’ event last week. Daniel Sweeney, MD, shared his program, “Antibiotic stewardship – information patients and families should know.
The informative talk detailed the ways antibiotics fight infections caused by bacteria. Normally, your immune system controls bacteria, but sometimes it can’t keep up and an infection that requires treatment can develop.
Most people will not need an antibiotic for an illness that turns out to be a cold. “Five years ago, a doctor would have pushed antibiotics. Today, we push fluids for 48 hours before considering antibiotics,” said Dr. Sweeney. “Fluids will flush out the system.”
Urinary tract infections are commonly treated with antibiotics. Any infection involving any part of the urinary tract, including urethra, bladder and kidney can be a UTI. Antibiotics are typically prescribed as treatment.
When there are no UTI symptoms, antibiotics are not needed and may cause health problems.
If you do not have symptoms, but your urine shows some bacteria, it may be better to wait and drink extra water or fluids.
In respiratory tract infections like colds and coughs, flu, pneumonia and bronchitis, some may require antibiotics. Lower respiratory infections like pneumonia and bronchitis are often treated with antibiotics. A common symptom of a respiratory infection needing an antibiotic are a fever with a bad cough. A cough alone is not typically treated with an antibiotic. If you are experiencing only a cough, it is better to wait. Tylenol and a cough suppressant may be used.
Antibiotics are important when you definitely have an infection, but unneeded antibiotics can do more harm than good. Five potential health problems may occur as a result of antibiotic use:
- Allergic reaction like a rash or swelling,
- Side effects like stomach upset,
- Drug interactions,
- An infection called C. Diff,
- Antibiotic resistance.
At O’Neill Healthcare Bay Village, action is taken in two ways to ensure that residents get the right care at the right time. First, they share information to understand the risks of antibiotics. Second, antibiotics are used only when necessary – in the event of a bacterial infection – that you get the right antibiotic at the right time and for the right length of time.