In a study of more than 180,000 people age 66 or older published recently in the Annals of Internal Medicine, almost half (46%) of the people seen by their physicians for a cold, acute bronchitis, sinusitis, or laryngitis were given antibiotics even though none of these are caused by bacteria, which is the only thing antibiotics work on. The likelihood of an antibiotic prescription was greatest from physicians in the mid to latter part of their careers, those who received their medical education outside of the U.S. or Canada, and from those who saw more than 25 patients a day.

Journal article abstract: http://annals.org/aim/article/2625386/antibiotic-prescribing-nonbacterial-acute-upper-respiratory-infections-elderly-persons

Article summary: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/317409.php

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Why is this important, you ask? Because inappropriate use of antibiotics has unintended consequences among them: increased health care cost, development of antibiotic resistance, and increased risk of drug induced complications among them allergic reactions and diarrhea the most serious of which is caused by Clostridium difficile - which can be fatal in some cases.

What can you do to avoid being prescribed antibiotics when you don’t need them? The CDC recommends the following actions:

  •  Don’t pressure your health care provider for antibiotics.
  • Ask your health care provider about ways to treat your symptoms without  
    antibiotics.
  • Tell your health care provider you are concerned about using antibiotics unless they are absolutely necessary to treat a bacterial  infection.
  • Practice good hand hygiene to prevent infection in the first place.

Remember - taking antibiotics for a viral infection:

Will NOT cure you

Will NOT prevent those around you from getting sick

Will NOT make you feel better

 

For more information see:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Antibiotics aren’t always the answer
https://www.cdc.gov/features/getsmart/

Protecting yourself and your family
https://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/protecting_yourself_family.html

About antibiotic use and resistance
https://www.cdc.gov/getsmart/community/about/