November 11, 2013

Antibiotic Overuse

Articles by Dr. Erdman are for informational purposes, and are not to be taken as specific medical advice.

In today’s world of medicine the use of antibiotics is as common as drinking water. Every cough, sniffle and earache elicits an antibiotic prescription from the doctor. If that isn’t enough, veterinarians treating animals are much the same. The meat you buy at the grocery is commonly loaded with antibiotics, given solely to keep the flock of hundreds and thousands of chickens well enough to kill them faster.  This abuse of antibiotics is causing irreparable harm.

There are many scientists sounding the warning that we are at the end of the age of antibiotics. More and more bugs are becoming resistant to the drugs we have been overusing, and drug companies are not searching for more. Drug companies are interested only in selling lots of people expensive drugs. Heart drugs, cancer drugs and psychotic drugs garner $10,000 to $80,000 per patient per year. Antibiotics only register in at a few hundred dollars per patient.

The threat of having no antibiotics available is very real! According to a report titled “Antibiotic Resistance Threat Report” published by the CDC this year, 2 million adults and children become infected with antibiotic resistant bacteria each year, and at least 23,000 of them die as a direct result of those infections. Even more die from complications. The death toll is just a best guess, and the real numbers are likely much higher.

Hospitals are not required to report outbreaks of antibiotic resistant bacteria, unlike in the EU, where they do track such problems. We, in the US, bury our heads because medicine does not want you to know their failures.

According to the ISDA (Infectious Disease Society of America), just one organism, MRSA, kills more Americans each year than emphysema, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s and homicides…combined!

Our modern food system is rife with overuse and inappropriate use of antibiotics. This abuse is responsible for creating the superbug crisis in which we find ourselves.

The agriculture industry accounts for 80% of all antibiotic use in the United States. Some 24.6 million pounds of antibiotics are given to livestock in the US every year for purposes other than treating disease! What? If not to treat disease, then why give them? The main reason is to make animals grow bigger, faster. Other parts of the world have banned this abuse, but not the good old USA. Did you know eighty different antibiotics are allowed in your milk? If that isn’t cause enough to find a farmer who doesn’t use them, I don’t know what is. You’re are eating those antibiotics, slowly causing resistance in the pathogens you contact. Then, when you may actually need an antibiotic, they just don’t work.

The meat grown using those drugs flows right to you. The National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) found antibiotic resistant bacteria in 81% of ground turkey, 69% of pork chops, 55% of ground beef, and 39% of chicken purchased in grocery stores in 2011. Consumers of the meat should be very worried about the meat bought from everyday supermarkets. The organisms found in the meat cause food borne illnesses and other infections. Worse, they spread antibiotic resistance, which threatens to bring us ever faster into the post antibiotic era.

You say an era beyond antibiotics will never happen? Think again. Medicine is already resorting to old drugs, discontinued for a reason, to treat end stage infections as a last resort. Another procedure being tried is actually cutting out the infection, little part by little piece, as it spreads. This is being done today because no drug touches some of these terrible infections.

Dr. Mercola suggests three points as a solution to our situation. First, we need better infection prevention, focusing on strengthening your immune system. Secondly, we need a more responsible use of these drugs for people and animals. Third, more innovative approaches to treatment of infection from all branches of science, natural and allopathic must be recognized.

There are many natural therapies to treat infection, and most of them put antibiotics to shame. Natural compounds such as garlic, cinnamon, oregano extract, colloidal silver, manuka honey, probiotics,  fermented food, Echinacea and vitamin D are all things to try before antibiotics.

The other basic element is keeping your own immune system in great working order. Eat properly, exercise and manage stress appropriately. Do not take an antibiotic at every sniffle and head cold, even if the doctor prescribes it. Most colds are viral, so antibiotics have no effect anyway. Use them wisely, and sparingly.