Once upon a time, if you got sick and went to a doctor, you would probably get a dose of antibiotics, but that’s certainly not the case anymore.
Of all the drugs that are abused, antibiotics and anti-virals rarely come to mind. That’s partly due to their ubiquitous nature.
Yet our over-reliance on antibiotics has led to something much worse than a sore throat or the flu—“super-bugs.”
Here’s how it happens: When bacteria enter the body, the immune system sends out white blood cells to attack the invading bacteria. Gradually the body builds a tolerance to whatever bacteria is invading.
When antibiotics are introduced, the body gets a helping hand, which means it doesn’t have to work as hard to fight off the illness. In turn, bacteria that are not killed by the antibiotics continue to reproduce and a new strain develops with an inherited tolerance to the drugs.
As this process continues, subsequent generations of the bacteria eventually become immune. What’s more, when a body becomes dependent upon artificially provided antibodies, the immune system is compromised and stops doing its job.
One solution might be to create stronger drugs, but that simply deepens and prolongs the body’s dependence. More and more powerful doses lead to a form of addiction, as the bacteria continue to adapt and become virtually invulnerable to modern medicine.
A current example of this is the swine flu. According to researchers, “New strains of flu could infect larger groups of people if humans have no natural resistance. A new, more virulent strain could be devastating—more people could be infected and with a deadlier disease.”
Another problem is misapplication of antibiotics by the medical profession. One study discovered that nearly 80 percent of the antibiotics prescribed for treating acute respiratory ailments were unnecessary. Introducing useless drugs only encourages the body to relax its defenses.
Perhaps the only way out of this vicious circle is to go back basics—fighting disease and infection the same way we did in the ancient past by letting nature run its course.
Of course, antibiotics will still have their place in treating severe afflictions, like pneumonia. But mild illnesses such as common colds or sore throats that are not life-threatening are best treated with hydrating fluids and bed rest.
Also, when help is required, vaccines may prove to be a better solution than antibiotics. Instead of attacking the microbes directly, they help the body create its own antigens and strengthen its natural defenses.
In the meantime, doctors are being advised by healthcare officials to cut back on antibiotic prescriptions. They are also cautioning the public to avoid self-medication with antibiotics acquired illegally or “borrowed” from friends or family members. When abused or misused, antibiotics may actually do more harm than good.
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