This time of year sees an uptick in people who present to the doctor’s office for one reason, they want an antibiotic. It’s amazing how people think antibiotics are the cure for all their ills, even though antibiotics are only useful in treating bacterial infections.
People don’t want to hear how their viral illness won’t respond to an antibiotic. They don’t care that at the rate things are going, antibiotic overuse is going to make most antibiotics ineffective leading to deaths from minor bacterial infections. They certainly have no interest in treating themselves by increasing fluids, staying home and resting. No. An antibiotic prescription is the expected parting gift of the office visit and without it, well, try the Emergency Department. Maybe they’ll give you one to shut you up and get you out.
I think it’s a type of sickness hysteria fueled by the internet and symptom checkers. Have a sore throat? It must be strep! A stuffy nose for a week? Sinusitis! A cold that’s made you tired and run down? Bronchitis!
Problem is 85%-95% of sore throats aren’t strep, 90-98% of sinus infections are caused by viruses, and most upper respiratory infections aren’t bacterial. Antibiotics will do nothing for these infections. The bitter truth is that it takes time to recover from an illness. Colds, bronchitis and sore throats caused by viruses may last two weeks or more, time we’re not prepared to spend taking care of ourselves. It’s easier to throw a pill at it.
Instead of rushing to the doctor’s office (and exposing yourself to whatever germs are lurking there), the next time you’re sick, stay home and take care of yourself. A tincture of time is remarkably effective in curing much of what ails us and it’s safer and cheaper than an antibiotic.
Remember, antibiotics kill bacteria, not viruses.