Incredible, but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control says that approximately 50% of antibiotics are prescribed unnecessarily. Why should we be concerned? According to the CDC, "Antibiotic resistance has been called one of the world's most pressing public health problems." In response the CDC launched a program to educate doctors and the public about the problem, which especially affects kids. "Get Smart: Know When to Use Antibiotics" is a website that helps you evaluate whether you might have a health issue caused by bacteria (antibiotics sometimes necessary so see your doctor), or a virus (antibiotics are not effective). "Get Smart" provides lots of great tips on self-care, such as rest, fluids, pain-relievers and humidifier use for a common cold, for example.
We need to think twice before asking our doctors for antibiotics for upper respiratory infections such as colds, flu, sore throat, cough, earache, and clogged sinuses - most of which are viral. A responsible doctor will rarely write a prescription without an office visit and physical exam.
If you do go home empty-handed, don't worry. Chinese herbal medicine offers many alternatives to antibiotics, such as the herbs isatis, honeysuckle, coptis and forsythia - to name a few. Under the care of a licensed acupuncturist, these herbs can replace antibiotics in certain cases, while also benefiting the immune system. While we can never replace the incredible role that antibiotics have in our world, we definitely need to get a lot smarter in their use.