The Overuse of Antibiotics Threatens our Future

David Tener, DC

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the widespread overuse of antibiotics is now one of the biggest public health threats facing our population today.(1) The more antibiotics are prescribed, the more bacteria become resistant, leaving our population without an effective means of combating serious, life threatening infections. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 90,000 people die each year in the United States from antibiotic resistant infections.(2) While MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant  Staph Aureus) is the most widely publicized, it is just one of many “superbugs” now plaguing our population. Other bacteria that kill thousands of people each year include Vancomycin resistant Enterococcus (VRE), multi drug resistant E-Coli and multi drug resistant Mycobacterium Tuberculosis (MDR-TB). 

Doctor’s are now being urged to limit antibiotic prescriptions, but as long as patients continue to demand antibiotics for every minor infection, the habitual prescribing of potent antibiotics is not likely to cease. Compounding the problem is that not only are antibiotics over-prescribed in our healthcare system, they are also widely over-used in today’s agricultural practices. 

In fact, according to the Food and Drug Administration, agriculture (meat production) accounts for approximately 80% of all antibiotic use in the US, making it a major contributor to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance in humans.(3) The antibiotic resistant bacteria that develop can be transmitted through meat consumption or through human contact with animals.  

What you can do to combat this issue:

While there is much talk about the seriousness of antibiotic resistant disease, few actually take it into consideration when making daily health decisions for themselves and for their families. This is where strategies for change are most effective….within the homes of each and every individual. 

1.  Minimize unecessary prescribing and overprescibing of antibiotics

Demanding antibiotics from your doctor for every minor infection only adds to the toll these drugs exact on public health. Prevent infection by keeping your resistance high with proper health promoting behaviors: 

  • Obtain sufficient rest and sleep
  • Optimize your Vitamin D levels with regular sun exposure
  • Eat plenty of organic, unprocesses, chemical free, nutrient dense foods
  • Reduce your sugar intake
  • Stay well hydrated
  • Reduce exposure to environmental toxins
  • Avoidance of toxins such as coffee, alcohol, tobacco, soft drinks, junk foods, etc. 
  • Obtain plenty of fresh air
  • Reduce Stress
  • Modest exercise
  • Practice good hygiene
  • "Connect to the Earth": 

2. Become an educated consumer

Become an educated consumer and avoid conventional dairy and meat products that contain high amounts of antibiotics and growth hormones. When animal products are consumed, they should come only from humanely raised, free range, organically farmed livestock. 

Sources

1.  Antibiotics aren't always the answer. [page on the Internet]. 2013 [cited 2013 Aug 20]. Available from: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Health and Human Services Web site: http://www.cdc.gov/features/getsmart/

2. Solomon S. Government takes action to prevent antibiotic resistance. [page on the Internet]. 2011 [cited 2013 Aug 20]. Available from: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Health and Human Services Web site: http://blogs.cdc.gov/safehealthcare/2011/11/10/government-takes-action-to-combat-antibiotic-resistance/

3.  Bottemiller H. Most U.S. antibiotics go to agriculture. [page on the Internet]. 2011 [cited 2013 Aug 20]. Available from: http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2011/02/fda-confirms-80-percent-of-antibiotics-used-in-animal-ag/#.UhQu9WSzzk0