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Antibiotics (cont.)

Antibiotic Resistance

One of the foremost concerns in modern medicine is antibiotic resistance. Simply put, if an antibiotic is used long enough, bacteria will emerge that cannot be killed by that antibiotic. This is known as antibiotic resistance. Infections exist today that are caused by bacteria resistant to some antibiotics. The existence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria creates the danger of life-threatening infections that don't respond to antibiotics.

There are several reasons for the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. One of the most important is antibiotic overuse. This includes the common practice of prescribing antibiotics for the common cold or flu. Even though antibiotics do not affect viruses, many people expect to get a prescription for antibiotics when they visit their doctor. Although the common cold is uncomfortable, antibiotics do not cure it, nor change its course. Each person can help reduce the development of resistant bacteria by not asking for antibiotics for a common cold or flu.

Medically reviewed by Martin E Zipser, MD; American board of Surgery

REFERENCE:

Rosen P, Barkin RM, eds. Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. Mosby-Year Book; 1992.

Tintinalli JE, Krome RL, Ruiz E. Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide. 4th ed. McGraw-Hill; 1995.


Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/11/2014
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Antibiotics: A Review of ED Use »

Note: A one-page reference table with key therapy recommendations taken from this article can be downloaded in Adobe Acrobat format by clicking the Antibiotics Guidelines Summary.

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