Date: October 7, 2006
To: Professor David Cooper
From: Brandy Morgan
Subject: Overusing antibiotics
What are the dangers of over-prescribing antibiotics?
There are not very many new antibiotics being generated by pharmaceutical companies and by research laboratories, so in the near future we really have to rely on the antibiotics that we already have. If we misuse and overuse the antibiotics that we have, it is quite possible that we will run out of treatment options for types of bacterial infections that are treatable today.
Many physicians are using very high-powered antibiotics for infections that would respond to simpler antibiotics. We should be reserving the stronger antibiotics for certain infections. If they are used for other infections or if they are used in patients with viral infections, we are just going to add to the problem of resistance.
Antibiotic resistance can cause significant danger and suffering for children and adults who have common infections that were once easily treatable with antibiotics. Over the last decade, almost every type of bacteria has become stronger and less responsive to antibiotic treatment when it is really needed. These antibiotic-resistant bacteria can quickly spread to family members, schoolmates, and co-workers -- threatening the community with a new strain of infectious disease that is more difficult to cure and more expensive to treat.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calls antibiotic resistance one of the world's most pressing public health problems.
Bacterial resistance is not the only risk of excessive use of antibiotics. The antibiotics we use today are relatively safe, but certain adverse reactions can occur. These range from mild yeast infections and stomach upset to severe diarrhea and allergic reactions that can be deadly.
Rectifying this problem will require that physicians become more educated about the proper use of antibiotics, and will require that patients...