Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Antibiotics are not candy!!!

This week, my sinus pressure has come up in conversation a couple times. My blocked left ear, friend of the blocked left sinus, has caused me to ask people to repeat themselves. Sometimes, if I've had to ask for multiple repetitions, I smile apologetically and explain about my ear, and then maybe the sinus comes up.

Just so you don't think I'm yakking about my sinus pain left and right. No, my dear blog friends, I save this special love for you. Yes, I do.

Anyway, two people--people from very different circles, one I met in college and one I just met at WW tonight--have said, "Why don't you just take some antibiotics? You can just call your doctor and ask for them. Your doctor will probably write you a prescription over the phone."

Oh, dear me.

Because, once again, I am more polite to people I see face-to-face than to you, my blog friends, I demure by saying, "My digestion is very sensitive to antibiotics, so I try not to take them." This response seems to cause the other person confusion, which, in turn, causes me confusion. Do people not know/realize/care that antibiotics wreak havoc on digestion?

Given that I have little restraint with you, my blog friends, I now present a list called

Reasons Why kStyle Tries to Avoid Antibiotics:

1. Most antibiotics kill your happy digestive bacteria, a.k.a. gut flora, along with their intended target bacteria. The gut flora live in your gut and help you digest your food. Without them, grave indigestion can result. It can take a long time and a lot of conscious effort to make the gut a happy home again and then recolonize it with gut flora. As an extreme example, many women I've worked with in my shiatsu practice who have IBS report that it developed after a potent round of antibiotics for something like Lyme Disease. (NOTE: Lyme Disease is a disease for which, yes, I would take antibiotics in a heartbeat.)

2. More generally, antibiotics throw your whole microscopic ecosystem off whack. The "good" or "friendly" bacteria--which live in all kinds of places, like your digestive system, nose, skin, vagina--compete with the bad nasty bacteria, viruses, and yeast, thus boosting your immunity. For example, the drug Cipro bypasses digestion and heads straight for the genitourinary tract, making it a valuable drug for UTI infections. However, many, many women taking Cipro also end up with a yeast infection, because Cipro kills the friendly bacteria that keep naturally occurring vaginal yeast in check. The yeast overgrow, the woman becomes very itchy in her privates.

(Don't believe me about #1 and 2? See here.)

3. Antibiotics are not candy! These are DRUGS. These are drugs that we want to work should we have Lyme, pneumonia, or bubonic plague. I want antibiotics to shock and awe my system should they need to do so. I have no desire to build up a resistance by drugging every bout of sinus pressure--which may or may not have an underlying bacteria infection--or UTI. I want to save the damn drugs for when they really count.

4. Antibiotics, antiseptics, and especially those truly unnecessary antibacterial soaps are incredibly overused. Bacteria in general have plenty of chance to build up resistance. Those little illness-causing dudes reproduce fast. It's a microscopic arms race. Let's not waste our ammo.

5. Even if I were more willing to pop a round of Augmentin, I would first go visit my doctor and let her, the person with the medical degree, diagnose whether my sinuses were infected with bacteria. Drugging viruses is a prime culprit in the problem of antibiotic resistance.


Narya said...

They don't just reproduce fast--they also MUTATE fast, which is part of the problem you describe.

I am sometimes convinced that part of the reason I get sick less often than most people around me is that (a) I used to get sick a lot as a kid, so I have some resistance from that, but also (b) I am not obsessively clean (and I worked in the food industry for two years). I will take antibiotics for bacterial infections (strep, Lyme disease, which I've had, etc.), but a cold? Drink lots of liquids and whip out the Tiger Balm.

kStyle said...

Right--the mutation! Important point, thanks.

Indeed, let's not medicate the cold. I'm going to look for some garlic-mullein ear drops, which should route out any virus or fungus I might have growing.

Larry Jones said...

I love my little parasite friends! Hello, Belly Buddies!

kStyle said...

Belly Buddies! Marvelous! Take good care of them and they will do the same for you.