Study showed massive use of antibiotics

For years, medical professionals have been afraid of super-pathogens that are resistant to antibiotics. Now, for the first time, a new study from the USA reveals concrete figures on overprescribing antibiotics. (Image: paulinquua / fotolia.com)

For the first time ever, study provides precise figures on unnecessary prescribing of antibiotics
In today's society, antibiotics are used extremely often to treat a wide variety of diseases. Scientists have now found that a third of the antibiotics prescribed are not really needed. Most doctors' offices and emergency rooms are too careless with the drug, according to the researchers. As a result, the risk of antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains continues to increase.

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All over the world, patients, doctors, and health professionals fear bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. The likelihood of such strains of resistant pathogens is increasing because people generally use antibiotics too often. Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Pew Charitable Trust found in a recent study that about a third of all antibiotics prescribed in the United States are not strictly needed. The doctors published the results of their investigation in the journal "JAMA".

For years, medical professionals have been afraid of super-pathogens that are resistant to antibiotics. Now, for the first time, a new study from the USA reveals concrete figures about unnecessary prescriptions of antibiotics. (Image: paulinquua / fotolia.com)

Approximately 47 million unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions each year in the US alone
Doctors and medical professionals prescribe antibiotics far too often these days. In the United States alone, around 47 million unnecessary prescriptions for the drug are issued each year, the authors explain. Mostly for illnesses such as colds, sore throats, bronchitis, flu and general infectious diseases.

Health officials have been warning for years that the overuse of antibiotics leads to the development of drug-resistant bacteria. But so far there have been no precise figures on the frequency of unnecessary use of antibiotics, say the medical professionals. The new study is so important because for the first time it actually provides concrete figures, explains Dr. David Hyun of the Pew Charitable Trust. The study analyzed the data from two large CDC surveys between 2010 and 2011, which recorded the majority of all antibiotic prescriptions.

The most important results at a glance
Over thirteen percent of all outpatient visits in the US (154 million visits annually) result in a prescription of antibiotics, the experts say. Around 44 percent of all prescriptions concern respiratory diseases, otitis media, sore throats, bronchitis, asthma, allergies, flu and pneumonia. About half of these prescriptions are unnecessary because they are viral diseases, the experts explain. Unfortunately, doctors also often prescribe antibiotics because they are pressured by the patient or the patient's parents, explains lead author Katherine Fleming-Dutra of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many medical professionals are concerned about the increasing demand for antibiotics.

The majority of patients rely on the doctors and trust them to make a correct diagnosis. Better communication with medical professionals about the dangers of “overprescribing” antibiotics is important in order to use the drug more responsibly in the future, adds Fleming-Dutra.

Super-pathogens are becoming a growing threat to hospitals and nursing homes
The overuse of antibiotics has led to a terrifying rise in drug-resistant bacteria called super-pathogens. The CDC have warned that such nightmare bacteria are becoming increasingly resistant to the most powerful types of antibiotics. They are becoming a growing threat to hospitals and nursing homes, say the experts. In the United States alone, an estimated two million illnesses and 23,000 deaths are due to antibiotic-resistant bacteria every year, the authors add. By 2020, the United States aims to cut antibiotic inappropriate use in half. (as)

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