Many doctors and hospitals are very reluctant to prescribe antibiotics to their sick patients for fear of creating antibiotic resistant infections. The recent fear of MRSA or Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aereus, has lead doctor’s to follow a very rigid set of indicators for prescribing antibiotics. One wonders if maybe this practice has been carried to an extreme that is neither beneficial to patients or the medical community.
Recently, I myself have been a victim of these well meaning doctors. Over the course of two months, I have seen two separate physicians with symptoms that would merit antibiotic use. Having almost a constant low grade fever, and producing yellow ” gunk ” from my lungs on a daily basis, neither doctor would prescribe antibiotics for my condition. The lack of antibiotics even triggered a full fledged flair in my adult onset asthma. Only after visiting a local emergency room, were antibiotics prescribed. Within 48 hours of taking the antibiotics, my lungs were clear and my fever was gone. The condition had gone on for so long, that not only was I prescribed antibiotic, but steroids in order to clear my lungs from the two full months of infections that resulted from me being unable to receive antibiotics.
Basically, the antibiotic use guideline states that viruses are not to be treated with antibiotics. The criteria of whether or not an illness is a virus is vague. As most common diseases do not have blood tests, this is left up to the advise of a doctor. Supposedly, according to one web site, the rise in MRSA has occurred because doctor’s were prescribing antibiotics for viruses. The other criteria states that, if a patients fever is not above 100 degrees, to have them return if the fever persists. Antibiotics are encouraged for patients with previous infectious histories such diabetic patients, or for patients in need of infection control prior to surgery. (www.intmed.mcw.edu/antibioticguide.html)
While more and more cases of MRSA are being reported, it is a major medical concern to limit the use of antibiotics. However a patients need versus the incidence of MRSA in an area should be considered. www.CDC.Gov states that while antibiotics are not always recommended for bronchitis, long lasting infections probably need to be treated with antibiotics. This is the category that I feel into. The doctor at the ER could not verify from xrays, but with my past history and the sound of my lungs, she assumed my bronchitis had ventured into pneumonia because it was left untreated for so long.(www.cdc.gov)
Www.nhsborders.org goes further to state under which conditions doctors should not hesitate to give antibiotics. If from lungs is yellow or greenish, an infection is probably present and antibiotics can be prescribed. If a fever has been present for three days, one might be needed. Mine went on for two months, although it was low grade. Of course most childhood ear infections will not improve without antibiotics. It is suggested that chest xrays be given before presuming pneumonia. Not all types of pneumonia are bacterial. Of course spinal meningitis requires antibiotic also. (www.nhsborders.org)
According to these criteria, I should have been well two months ago. I know the doctors meant well, but in the meantime, I suffered through two miserable months, and lost six days of work due to the reluctance of doctors to prescribe antibiotics. As of now, I don’t think anyone has the answer. Prescribing antibiotics freely is dangerous, but not prescribing them, can also be dangerous. I suppose for now doctors are erring on the side of MRSA. We will see what the future holds for this issue.