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Why People Shouldn't Take Antibiotics for Sinus Infections

When most people get a sinus infection, their first instinct is to ask a doctor for some antibiotic medication, which actually might be the worst choice of treatment.

Amazingly, 20 percent of all adult antibiotic prescriptions in the U.S. are written to treat a sinus infection, but most are useless because 90 percent of sinus infections are caused by viruses, according to a press release by the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

The problem is antibiotics only kill bacteria, not viruses.

A research study in 2012 found that antibiotics won't treat most sinus infections any better than a placebo, reported NPR.

This mass prescribing of antibiotics is believed to be the cause of "superbug" outbreaks, which are immune to most antibiotics.

According to Mother Jones, the overuse of antibiotics has caused some resistant bacteria to mutate into a "superbug."

Basically, the more antibiotics that a person takes, the more likely they are to get a drug-resistant infection.

However, just as millions of people once believed the earth was flat, so do millions of Americans believe an antibiotic can treat a virus.

In strictly financial terms, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claims that insurance companies and Americans spend about $1 billion a year on useless antibiotics, but in a market-driven health care system, the customer is always right, even when she or he is wrong.

"We do have somewhat an unsympathetic work culture, and I do agree that that leads to this desire, this desperate seeking of some sort of quick fix," Dr. Lauri Hicks told Mother Jones. "Unfortunately, with most of these illnesses, there is no quick fix."

"Treating such patients can be a challenge because it takes a lot of my time to educate someone and to persuade them to understand that this illness is going to resolve in all likelihood without the need for an antibiotic," added Dr. David Lang, an allergist at the Cleveland Clinic's Respiratory Institute.

While the CDC is right to tell Americans to stay home and get bed rest, the reality is that the U.S. has no paid sick leave laws as almost every other industrialized nation does have. So it's no wonder that Americans want the quick fix.

Source: Mother Jones and NPR


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