There are benefits to antibiotics when used appropriately, but most infections coming through during the winter season are in fact caused by viruses such as influenza, cold virus, ear infections and bronchitis. Sometimes it’s difficult to understand what you’re dealing with and how to treat it.
One thing that’s important to know is that antibiotics only treat bacterial infections.
Generally, respiratory infections, bronchitis and sinusitis are caused by viruses. Studies have shown that 90% of the time these infections are growing viruses, not bacteria. Quite often, treating these infections with antibiotics is not the right protocol.
Symptoms to look for when you may need to consider taking antibiotics:
You are 1 week into an infection and getting worse, instead of better
You have a fever, over 100.5
You have sinus pain or pressure that gets progressively worse after 1 week
You are feeling a shortness of breath
If you’re unsure, please get examined. Just know that one of the main things you want to avoid is using antibiotics for viral infections. It will not help you get better if you use it inappropriately and there is a growing amount of evidence to show many downsides to using antibiotics in this way.
Antibiotics can create resistant bacteria in your body (superbugs) that cannot be treated. Also, it’s detrimental to the microbiome of the body. Good bacteria is crucial to your health and broad-spectrum antibiotics will wipe out all the good flora and bacteria, making it very difficult to create more.
Probiotics are often used to help create more good bacteria, but they are very limited and not as diverse as the natural microbiome in your body. In a healthy gut there are about 300-500 strains naturally and most probiotics only have 5-30 strains.
What we’ve seen over time is that the more diverse your microbiome, the healthier you are. There are a host of problems that come from an inadequate diversity of good bacteria. People that have accumulated a lot of bad bacteria may end up having issues in the future such as intestinal inflammation, yeast, parasites and eventually damage that can affect the whole body with the development of skin problems, chronic fatigue and autoimmune diseases.
This is not to discourage using antibiotics completely. It has saved many lives when used appropriately. But, the toll antibiotics can take on the body can be far-reaching when used carelessly, especially when combined with a certain constitution and genetics.
If you’re not sure what kind of infection you have and how to handle it, we’d be happy to see you so you can receive the right treatment. There are ways to deal with viral infections that really help and we will direct you with the best way to go.
Grateful to have you as patients and hope to see you all soon!
Jonathan Vellinga, MD