Antibiotic overuse can lead to treatment-resistant infections


BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – This week is U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week, and now that it’s prime time for colds and the flu, it’s the perfect time to think about when an antibiotic is needed and when a different treatment may be the answer.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one-third of the antibiotics that are prescribed aren’t needed. And using antibiotics when they’re not needed can have a high price-resulting in infections that don’t respond to antibiotics in the future, and there are almost 3 million of those infections every year in the United States. They can be fatal, too, with over 35,000 people dying in the U.S. annually.

Dr. Chase Beliles, a physician at Graves-Gilbert Clinic in Bowling Green, said taking a wait-and-see approach to many cases of coughs, sneezing and fevers might be the best option when they are only minor. The vast majority of the time, they are viral and go away without treatment, but they can take as long as a week to leave. In the meantime, over-the-counter medications such as Tylenol and Mucinex can be used to help relieve the symptoms until the actual infection clears up.

For more severe symptoms such as trouble breathing, a high fever or a fever with a rash, seeing your doctor sooner is a good idea.