(Natural News) Society is beginning to pay the price for years of antibiotic overuse, with superbugs claiming more and more lives every year and causing grave concern among health organizations and some medical professionals. Many are trying to reduce the number of antibiotic prescriptions they dole out, and one area where great reductions could potentially be made is when it comes to oral infections.
A study carried out by researchers from Case Western Reserve University discovered that antibiotics kill the “good” bacteria that can keep inflammation and infections away. This finding came after they looked at resident bacteria in the mouth, along with their fatty acids and the effects they had on the white blood cells that fight infections. In particular, they examined the short-term maintenance of cells known as Th-17 and Tregs in fighting against fungal infections like Candida.
They discovered that the body’s own natural defenses were remarkably effective when it came to reducing inflammation and infection, and that antibiotics actually stop these natural defenses from working.
Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences Pushpa Pandiyan said: “We have good bacteria doing good work every day, why kill them? As is the case with many infections, if you leave them alone, they will leave on their own.”
While she conceded that antibiotics aren’t always bad – they can save lives in the case of life-threatening infections, for example – our bodies’ natural defenses should not be interfered with. She said that this is especially important given the clear connection between oral health and overall health.
Antibiotic overuse awareness efforts underway
Right now, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is carrying out a national educational effort to fight antibiotic resistance and improve prescription practices. They call antibiotic resistance one of the most urgent public health threats we’re facing today. When bacteria gain the ability to destroy the drugs meant to kill them, the results can be deadly, with more than 2 million Americans developing antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections and 23,000 dying from them each year.
Although antibiotics can save lives, there is always the risk of developing resistance, which is why unnecessary prescriptions need to be curbed. The CDC reports that roughly 30 percent of the antibiotics prescribed in our nation’s doctors’ offices and ERs are unnecessary. Surely we can do better than this.
Having healthcare professionals change their ways could go a long way toward stemming this problem. Informing the public of the dangers is also useful as many people are under the mistaken impression that these drugs are “stronger” and will help them heal faster. Ultimately, however, it’s the prescribing physicians who are the gatekeepers, and they need to know when to sign off on an antibiotic and when to wait or suggest another course of treatment instead.
The Case Western researchers’ findings show that oral infections are one area where it could be better to let nature run its course, and there are also other cases where antibiotics aren’t needed. For example, they do not work on viruses like those that cause the flu, bronchitis, or colds, even if your mucus is thick and green or yellow, contrary to popular belief.
Antibiotics are generally only needed for bacterial infections, and even then, not all of them require such meds. For example, some ear and sinus infections don’t need them to heal. Right now, U.K. researchers are investigating alternative treatments for ear infections that they hope will lead to reductions in unnecessary oral antibiotic use while giving patients relief from the pain of ear infections.
As a patient, you can do your part by confirming antibiotics are truly necessary for your condition when your doctor prescribes them and getting a second opinion if you have any doubt.
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