COMMENTARY | Well this is very unsettling news. According to the Centers for Disease Control, gonorrhea may soon become an incurable disease. A new strain of the most common STD appears to be resistant to the only antibiotic known to treat it. The findings were published by the Journal of the American Medical Association.
So who or what is to blame? Are we having too much unprotected sex? Perhaps. Or are superbugs becoming all too common? That's a more likely scenario. And if that's the case, how did these superbugs come about? The answer is simple: we've overdosed on antibiotics.
Sir Alexander Fleming must surely be turning in his grave. What was once one of the greatest medical discoveries of the 20th century is slowly becoming useless to our modern world. Yes, antibiotics are effective in treating numerous diseases and infections. But we have come to view them as the ultimate cure for all our ailments. The truth is, antibiotics cannot treat many illnesses. One example is influenza. That's because the flu is a virus and antibiotics do not work on viruses.
Nevertheless, we continue to beg our doctors for more penicillin every time we have a cold. As a nurse, I've seen patients do this firsthand. Unfortunately, all this antibiotic dependency has done is make our bodies less able to fight illness on its own and increase our resistance to antibiotics. Instead of reaching for antibiotics at every turn, here are some suggestions as to what we can do when we feel sick.
- Stop begging doctors to feed us more antibiotics when we don't need them. Your doctor will tell you which conditions can be treated with antibiotics and which ones can't.
- Doctors, don't give in to pressure from nervous patients and overprotective parents who demand antibiotics with every sneeze. Educate, don't placate.
- Let nature take its course with certain illnesses. You don't need penicillin every time you get a sore throat. Gargling with warm water and salt kills germs too.
Antibiotics are still some of the most powerful drugs we have to protect our health. But let's stop misusing them to our disadvantage.
J Budd is a registered nurse and a former broadcast journalist in the NYC/NJ area.