It grieves me to read the latest news regarding the antibiotic resistant forms of staph infection that are spreading. This morning I read two articles about concern over staph infections in public school students (read here and here).
The primary issue in this current situation is not as much the spread of the infection, but rather that it has become resistant to common forms of antibiotics. How does this happen? Why are we beginning to have these so-called "superbugs" on our hands?
The reason is the misuse and extreme overuse of antibiotics, such as penicillin, amoxicillin, methicillin, etc. Originally a life saving discovery, antibiotics have become the medical world's cure-all, and are currently prescribed for nearly any minor infection that is diagnosed at the doctor's office (if you don't believe me, try to think back over the last few years and how many times either you, your husband, or your children visited the doctor for something minor and left the office with an antibiotic prescription in hand). This article from the Roanoke Times, Oct.17, 2007, gives greater insight into the issue (read the full article).
The results underscore the need for better prevention measures. That includes curbing the overuse of antibiotics and improving hand-washing and other hygiene procedures among hospital workers, said the CDC's Dr. Scott Fridkin, a study co-author.
Some hospitals have drastically cut infections by first isolating new patients until they are screened for MRSA.
The bacteria don't respond to penicillin-related antibiotics once commonly used to treat them, partly because of overuse. They can be treated with other drugs but health officials worry their overuse could cause the germ to become resistant to those, too.
If we (by we, I mean all of western civilization) continue to abuse antibiotics we will have far deadlier resistant bacteria straings and much greater ensuing tragedies to deal with. Not to mention that the continual use of antibiotics is ravaging our digestive system, leading to a host of other problems (but that's another issue for another day). So what can we do about it?
1) Don't just blindly accept antibiotics when prescribed to your family. Ask for the full name of the infection at hand, wait to fill the prescription, and first research and learn about what you are dealing with. Not everything is serious enough to warrant antibiotic use (in fact, many things are not).
2) Learn to use natural remedies for minor infections whenever possible. There are many natural substances out there with a great deal of anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties (among these are garlic, oil of oregano, colloidal silver, just to name a few). A practical example from our home is that when our daughter was around 1- 1 1/2 years old, she had two Candida yeast infections in her diaper area. The first time she was prescribed an antibiotic ointment, which I applied once and never again (I had to soak her in an oatmeal bath for an hour afterwards to try to stop the stinging on her poor little bottom). So, we sought alternative methods. We applied a natural diaper cream and sprinkled probiotic (like acidophilus) powder on top of the cream. Orally, we gave her colloidal silver, grapefruit seed extract and put acidophilus powder in her food. Both times, in less than a week, the infection went away and has not returned now in over a year.
3) Consider whether your immune system may already be compromised from the previous use of antibiotics. If you have taken any rounds (especially if you've had more than one round) of antibiotics in the past five years, I would strongly suggest taking a high quality probiotic formula (the best ones need to be refrigerated and contain several different strains of probiotics- ask your local health food store or vitamin store for a recommendation).
4) Consider reading this excellent article from Dr. Mercola's site about the use of antibiotics.