The next time you’re ailing, think twice before you urge the doctor to give you antibiotics.
You can be thankful that doctors and dentists still prescribe antibiotics when you need them. But widespread misuse and overuse of antibiotics is decreasing the effectiveness of some medicines and helping spread diseases that are resistant to treatment by common antibiotics.
Four Important Facts
Here are four important facts to remember about antibiotics:
- Overuse of antibiotics is unsafe and puts everyone at risk of future harm. While the immediate effect of using an unnecessary antibiotic may be unnoticeable, the long-term effect can be devastating. In reality, every time you use an antibiotic improperly – to treat a cold or even just to prevent the possibility of infection in yourself, a loved one or even a pet – you are increasing the risk that it won’t work against bacteria when it’s really needed.
- Antibiotics don’t work for viral infections. Antibiotics cannot help you beat the common cold, for example. So if a doctor says your problem is caused by a virus, remember that insisting on antibiotics is likely to waste your money, the doctor’s time and the potential for antibiotics to make a difference when treating more serious illnesses or injuries.
- Antibiotics kill good bacteria, too, which can make patients more prone to other infections. Consumer Reports recently shared the story of a woman who took antibiotics to help prevent
infection after a root canal, which killed “good bacteria” and opened the door to a “bad bacteria” called Clostridium difficile, also known as “C. diff.” She died from the C. diff infection. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says C. diff infections infect 453,000 people annually, leading to more than 29,000 deaths. Estimates of the death toll are continually revised
upward as the threat grows.
- Overuse and misuse of antibiotics contributes to the rise of “super-bugs.” Super-bugs are antibiotic-resistant infections that can be very difficult to treat. In 2011, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says drug-resistant bacteria made 2 million Americans ill in community and health care settings and killed 23,000. Future damage could be far higher: The Review on Antimicrobial Resistance commissioned by the British government estimates that by 2050, antibacterial resistance could annually kill 10 million people worldwide, more than cancer.
Sharing Best Buy Drugs Information
The Alliance blog will soon share more articles written by editors at Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs. Consumer Reports works to make sure consumers nationwide have the tools they need to make smart choices in the health care marketplace with programs like Best Buy Drugs. The Alliance is a proud regional partner of Consumer Reports Health, helping promote programs like Best Buy Drugs and sharing information directly with employers and their employees and family members.
We hope you’ll take the advice from Best Buy Drugs to heart as you consider your role in combating the serious threat created by antibiotic overuse.
- View a CDC infographic on what causes C. diff infections.
- Read related blog posts from Best Buy Drugs:
- Employers: Get free copies of the Best Drugs for Less booklet for your workforce. The booklet shares information about the best medicines based on a rigorous and scientific review of safety, effectiveness and cost. Contact Member Services at 800.223.4139 x6644 or firstname.lastname@example.org to order booklets.
Prior to joining The Alliance, Amy served as the quality program administrator at Physicians Plus Insurance Corporation. She took on the role of project manager for the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) accreditation efforts as well as the development and reporting of key health plan quality metrics. Her resume also includes work at UW Health (University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics) where she served as a clinical content facilitator.
Amy attended University of Wisconsin-Platteville where she received her Master of Science in project management and Lawrence University where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in music, neuroscience and biomedical ethics.
Read blog posts by Amy.
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