About 1500 miles ago I stated I would soon post on the topic of antibiotics. That was an optimistic proclamation based on my May Google Calendar! Many consecutive Mays have been overrun with graduations, weddings, moves, conferences, retreats, showers and holidays, still I always believe that I carefully planned less than my previous May! Maybe so, but I was still a little overbooked, and didn’t allow much writing time.
You’ll soon see what happens when my mind has many hours to mull over what I think is most important about antibiotics, while glancing frequently into my rearview mirror and monitoring the trailer in tow.
Last week I rented a Uhaul trailer and my husband and I towed it in a giant circle from our house, to near Boston, to Vermont and back home, collecting items along the way. It was packed and parked overnight so we could attend a wedding, and then my fifteen year old daughter and I towed it in a giant loop to North Carolina, emptied it, and towed it back home. Next, I traded it in for the type of trailer with ramps, and headed to Vermont once again, to fetch my repaired lawn mower.
Trailers are exceptionally useful for moving furniture and lawn mowers, and each task is completed most efficiently with the most suitable type of trailer. Trailers are not very helpful for transporting people, pets and groceries, the passenger vehicle suits that purpose much better.
The same rule applies for antibiotics- because they also are excellent for some situations, but not for all, and should be carefully chosen by a professional for the best effectiveness, based on proper diagnosis.
Antibiotics are medications that fight bacterial infections. There are many different types of antibiotics, and different administration routes, including pills, ointments, and even intravenous infusions. Antibiotics can do a lot of good, and many lives have been saved by appropriate use. If you have ever had a miserable case of strep throat that responded quickly to antibiotics, you know just how useful antibiotics can be. It is extremely important however, that they are used correctly.
Antibiotics work to kill bacteria that cause infection. Some of the common illnesses that antibiotics are indicated for include , strep throat, pneumonia, bladder infections and some sexually transmitted diseases. Definitely see a prescriber if you think you need antibiotics, and trust their advice. Do not take antibiotics that you have left from your last illness, or some your friend has on hand. Also if you are prescribed antibiotics be sure to finish all of them. ( See my post on MARs to help keep you on track). Taking the wrong antibiotic, or failing to finish a prescription contributes to the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria. The dreaded “super bugs.”
Antibiotics do not kill viruses. Common viral illnesses include the common cold, most sore throats, and flu. In my family, I usually assume an illness is a viral unless it really hasn’t begun to improve in 7 days, resolving completely in 10 days. Viral sore throats often strike quick, the throat becoming very sore, frequently accompanied by a very high 24 hr fever. There is no curative medication, you have to support your body while it fights off the infection. Medications that help manage the symptoms can be helpful, like Tylenol and Advil, throat lozenges, and hot tea with honey. Rest, and plenty of fluids can facilitate recovery from viral illness as well.
Personally I think it is very important that everyone strives to protect the effectiveness of our antibiotic medications. Many people fear that cancer is the most fatal diagnosis. But that is because our highly effective antibiotics allow children and young people to survive strep throat, appendicitis, infected wounds and pneumonia. Without effective antibiotics infection is as at least as life threatening as cancer.
The two trailers I used last week are different, each selected for the right purpose.If you are taking antibiotics be sure you use one prescribed for you, the right way. It is important we protect this valuable resource.
I know it sounds rather odd to compare medicine and trailers- but maybe it will help you remember with a smile, why it matters !