Antibiotics are an effective way of killing bacteria and preventing a bacterial infection. One of the world's most pressing health threats, however, is antibiotic resistance, which can be caused by overusing antibiotic drugs. Learn more about antibiotics with the valuable resources below.
Antibiotics can only cure infections caused by bacteria, not viruses. It is estimated that more than half of antibiotics are unnecessarily prescribed, commonly for cough and cold illnesses, most of which are caused by viruses.
Unnecessarily prescribed antibiotics lead to a growth in antibiotic-resistant infections. According to the CDC, each year in the United States, 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deaths were caused by antibiotic-resistant infections. Without urgent action, modern medicine will be obsolete and minor illnesses will once again be deadly.
The CDC, in collaboration with Pew Charitable Trusts and other public health and medical experts, released new data in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) on the overuse of antibiotics in healthcare offices and emergency departments throughout the United States. Pew also released a report, “Antibiotic Use in Outpatient Settings,” which outlines the baseline analysis and condition-specific targets, as well as practical strategies to improve antibiotic prescribing.
The data show that at least 30 percent of antibiotics prescribed in the United States are unnecessary, largely due to prescribing for respiratory conditions including common colds, viral sore throats, bronchitis, and sinus and ear infections. These 47 million excess prescriptions each year put patients at needless risk for allergic reactions or the sometimes deadly diarrhea, Clostridium difficile.
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