“But my child needs antibiotics to feel better!”
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-by Randi Sayles, Pharm.D., BCACP, one of the Clinical Pharmacists at Orange City Area Health System
It’s that time of year again. The weather is cooling and we are starting to see an increase in infections. Often times, patients come to the clinic looking for an antibiotic to cure their illness. Evidence is available showing a large amount of infections are viral in nature (not bacterial) and do not require antibiotics. While your child might not need an antibiotic this time, eventually they will.
What are antibiotics?
Antibiotics are medications we give patients to treat infections caused by bacteria. Since many infections we see in the clinic are caused by viruses, these antibiotics won’t work on the virus. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates over half of all antibiotics that are prescribed are not necessary. As seen in the chart (below), many common illnesses (sore throat, common cold/runny nose, bronchitis) are often caused by viruses and do not need antibiotics. In fact, antibiotics will not help these conditions, but may lead to resistance in the future.
What is antibiotic resistance?
Bacteria are smart. The bacteria in your body can change in their structure or function to “beat” the antibiotics we prescribe. Since the antibiotics we use target those bacteria, if they change, the antibiotics can’t work how they were made to work. This causes the bacteria to continue to grow and become harder to treat. The antibiotics may eventually lose their ability to treat infections.
How can you (the patient) help prevent resistance?
The first thing you can do to prevent antibiotic resistance is to avoid illness altogether. To do this, we recommend preventative strategies such as proper hand washing, staying up-to-date on vaccines, and staying home when you are ill to avoid spreading to others.
When you are ill, we still encourage you to go in and be seen by a provider if you feel your symptoms are not improving. It is important to have an evaluation done to determine if your illness is viral or bacterial. If your provider feels the illness is viral, trust
them. We recommend you do not insist on an antibiotic if your provider feels you have a viral illness (it will not cure the virus and may make the antibiotic ineffective for future infections). Ask your provider what you can use to treat the symptoms of your viral illness (for example: pain medications, cough drops, etc.). If your provider feels you have a bacterial infection and you are prescribed an antibiotic, make sure you finish the entire course, even if you feel better after a couple days. Those bacteria can stick around in your body, even if you feel better. If you stop your antibiotic too soon, the bacteria could come back worse than before, and that antibiotic may no longer work (“antibiotic resistance”). You should never take antibiotics prescribed for someone else. In addition, we recommend not taking antibiotics left over from a previous infection.
So, while your child might not need
an antibiotic now, they may need
one later. When they do need
it, we want it to work!
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-by Dr. Alan Laird, Chief Medical Officer
In my last column, I wrote about the habits that could help us live a healthier life. But that begs a question. Why do you want
to live a healthy life? I realize with this question I am treading out of medicine and into philosophy, theology, and psychology. But if we are going to be motivated to live healthier, I think we have to ask why? If the answer is to have a life we want to live, then we have to ask, what makes a happy life?
A deep and thoughtful answer to that question is going to vary from person to person. But if you could ask a group of people over time about their life, what common aspect(s) would be found in those who believe their life to be happy? Perhaps rather than using the word “happy,” it could be “meaningful” or “satisfied” or “joyful.” Whatever the correct term, a Harvard study tried to answer that question.
The study was conducted on the lives of 724 men over 78 years. It is a remarkable study because of its longevity and comprehensive scope. Participants were surveyed every two years about their physical and mental health. They answered questions about their friendships, marriages, and professional lives. They had personal interviews as well as blood tests and brain scans. It required multiple research teams over the duration of the project to accomplish this. It is ongoing and has broadened to include children, spouses, and women. The original group was not very diverse (it was all white men), but it did attempt to include men from different socioeconomic backgrounds (poor and wealthy, socially well-connected and those disadvantaged).
So while this study may not reveal “wisdom of the ages,” what was the common thread among those reporting a satisfying life? It was relationships
. It wasn’t wealth, it wasn’t social status, it wasn’t power, it wasn’t possessions, it wasn’t accomplishments, and it wasn’t professions. It was being as connected as we want to be
. Some of us have the desire to be connected to a lot of people; others may only desire a connection to a few people. But if you have those core relationships that you need, you seem to be better insulated from the tuff knocks of life … and more likely to be “happy.”
I believe this is a warning for our society.
As we continue to emphasize the “I” and “me” rather than the “us” and “we,” we run the risk of further isolation. As we spend more time on our screens (Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, TV, Netflix, Hulu etc.), we get a false sense of connection. We may be “following” hundreds of people or have hundreds of “followers.” But as the saying goes, that can be “a mile wide and an inch deep.”
Studies indicate that electronic “relationships” do not make up for flesh and blood relationships. As we elect to remove ourselves from meeting together, in person, and choose screen time over fellowship, we often reinforce the very feelings we are trying to escape.
No, being connected or having relationships does not guarantee happiness (or satisfaction or meaningfulness). But we really do make a difference in each other’s lives.
So if we’re going to be healthy, let’s try also to be happy. And at least one key to that happiness appears to be social connection. Perhaps we need to give something up to have time for that social interaction. Perhaps we need to remind those around us, screen-to-screen is not face-to-face. We need to invest in others, and in turn we are likely to find ourselves invested in. And since we need to exercise (and probably lose weight), maybe we can invest in each other and connect at the gym, while we walk — or over a healthy meal.
Okay, time to turn off my computer.
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Marty Guthmiller, CEO of Orange City Area Health System (OCAHS), has been recognized among Becker’s Healthcare “71 Critical Access Hospital CEOs to Know.” The men and women included on this list lead organizations regularly recognized for patient safety and quality. According to Becker’s “These individuals hold an important role within their community, serving on corporate boards and state-level initiatives to improve access to care.” Guthmiller has served as the CEO for OCAHS since 1993. During his tenure, he oversaw the planning, fundraising, and construction of the health system’s $29.6 million replacement campus in Orange City. In October, Guthmiller will be installed as the Chair of the Iowa Hospital Association. Recently, Orange City Area Health System was recognized as one of Becker’s “66 Critical Access Hospitals to Know” for 2018.
The full list of CEOs can be accessed here
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