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Health and Wellness Tips
Preserving Anti-Biotic Power

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HEALTH AND WELLNESS TIPS   (provided by Health360 through Blue Cross of California)

Working Together to Preserve Antibiotic Power

Working Together to Preserve Antibiotic Power By: The Coalition for Affordable Quality Healthcare (CAQH)
(Medical Review Date: 2001) 


Many people think of antibiotics as a magic bullet when it comes to illness and disease, and with good reason. The first antibiotic was discovered in 1928 and became widely available in the 1940s, wiping out deadly diseases like scarlet fever. Yet today, antibiotics may be “too much of a good thing," because overuse has led to a growing public health threat called antibiotic resistance. 


While media coverage of the problem of antibiotic resistance has increased in recent years, many patients remain unaware of the differences between viral and bacterial infections, and the fact that antibiotics are powerless against viral infections such as most coughs, the common cold and the flu. This confusion causes them to ask their doctor for what they think works best to cure an illness: a strong dose of antibiotics. Misuse of antibiotics has contributed to the development of antibiotic resistance, which results in nearly two American deaths each hour, according to the World Health Organization. 
Blue Cross of California, as a member of the Coalition for Affordable Quality Healthcare (CAQH), is collaborating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to preserve the power of antibiotics. Save Antibiotic Strength (SAS) is a program on both national and local levels to educate patients about the threat of antibiotic resistance and to arm physicians with information and tools to support appropriate antibiotic use. 


The consequence of antibiotic overuse is stronger, tougher bacteria. The human body normally is home to millions of bacteria. These ‘friendly’ bacteria found on the skin, in the mouth and lining the digestive tract are harmless and many are necessary for the normal functioning of the body. Whether an antibiotic is taken correctly for a bacterial infection or taken inappropriately for a viral infection, using it eliminates thousands of friendly bacteria. With less competition from these harmless, ‘friendly’ bacteria, the newly mutated, antibiotic-resistant ‘super bugs’ can multiply more freely. 
The CDC recommends patients follow these guidelines for antibiotic resistance prevention: 
Antibiotics do not work against viral infections like most coughs, the common cold, or the flu. Do not take an antibiotic drug for a viral illness. Ask about ways to help relieve your symptoms if your physician determines that you do not have a bacterial infection. Do not pressure your doctor to prescribe an antibiotic.
Take medicine exactly as your physician prescribes.
Take the antibiotic until it is gone, even if you are feeling better. Do not save the medication to treat yourself or others later.


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