Antibiotic Resistance: Reality or Myth?

. Posted in TREATING SINUS DISEASE

There is a large and, unfortunately, growing misconception that people become resistant to antibiotics. In truth, people don’t become resistant to antibiotics, the bacteria do. What’s more, bacteria become resistant only when we do not take antibiotics properly. For example, when you have a bacterial infection, you are bombarded with millions of bacteria, yet only half are sensitive to a particular antibiotic, while the other half
are resistant. Your body can kill off the resistant bacteria if it is helped by the antibiotic over a course of 14 days because the antibiotic is meant to kill off the sensitive bacteria. While you may start to feel better by day 7, all of the bacteria have not been killed, including the resistant bacteria. You might decide to stop the antibiotics anyway, thinking that you are well. However, the resistant bacteria can start to multiply to numbers that will make you sick again. Now you have developed a new or recurrent infection for which your antibiotic won’t work. Your body will not be able to fight off this many bacteria on it’s own without help of the antibiotic. And the antibiotic won’t work. If you had continued to take the antibiotic the first time long enough for it to kill off all of the sensitive bacteria, your body would have killed the few resistant bacteria and you would have been cured. This is why it is important to take the complete course of antibiotics.

If you suffer from chronic sinus infections, don’t worry about developing a resistance to antibiotics. These medications can be prescribed as part of a targeted treatment program that, if needed, can be used round after round until your infection has completely cleared. It is well known that antibiotic resistance can be prevented if a careful and strict approach to care is followed. This care begins with knowing which specific bacteria are causing each infection and which antibiotics are effective against that bacteria. Furthermore, your doctor is assuming that you will be compliant, taking all of your medicines without skipping any of the doses.

Others are concerned that antibiotics are dangerous. This cannot be further from the truth. Instead, it is the misuse of antibiotics that is dangerous: especially for those who do not finish their dosage or self - medicate infections with leftover pills from previous infections. These scenarios can cause the antibiotics to work improperly.

I once treated Philip, a 41-year-old man who thought he needed sinus surgery. Philip came to me complaining of repeated severe frontal headaches and constant sinus infections. He had postnasal drip with hoarseness, and a constant cough and often got laryngitis. His sense of smell and taste had diminished. Philip spent a significant amount of time in airplanes, and complained that his headaches were especially bad
when he flew: His ears would get clogged and the pain in his ears and sinuses frustrated him to the point that it was making flying almost unbearable.

Philip was told by his primary-care physician that he might need sinus surgery and came to my office for a consultation. Instead of surgery, I started him on medication. I treated him with nasal steroids, antihistamines, antibiotics, and natural acidophilus. At first, Philip was reluctant to take antibiotics, but after I explained how the antibiotics worked, he decided to take them to treat the bacterial infection. With this treatment, Philip was able to avoid surgery. Best of all, he no longer has sinus headaches or sinus infections. He still flies frequently and reports that he no longer has ear pain or frontal headaches.

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