Doctor's Orders: When do you really need an antibiotic? - News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Doctor's Orders: When do you really need an antibiotic?

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Up to one third to 1/2 of antibiotic use in humans is either unnecessary or inappropriate, according to the CDC. Overuse and misuse has led to antibiotic resistance, making it more difficult to treat some infections.  So when do you really need an antibiotic? 21 News has tips from a local doctor and the CDC.

When we get sick we all want to feel better right away but antibiotics aren't always the answer.

"Anybody that gets a sniffle or anything they run out to the doctor and really the doctor is in a tough spot for them to justify what they're doing the patient has to walk out of there with a piece of paper," described pharmacist Jeff Covelli.

The CDC says antibiotics should only be used to treat bacterial infections, not viral infections.

Strep throat, whooping cough and urinary tract infections need antibiotics. Sinus and middle ear infections are in the maybe category.

Antibiotics are not needed for bronchitis or a chest cold in otherwise healthy patients, the common cold or runny nose, sore throat (except strep) and the flu.

"Most people have a viral infection this time of year. Allergic symptoms account for most of what people think are sinusitis, the post nasal drip causing a sore throat. In those particular instances, unless your ear's really hurting you and you have a sinus problem or a nasal problem, give it 10 days. A viral infection, for the most part, the symptoms are going to subside by 10 days," explained Dr. John Venglarcik, former medical director at the Mahoning County Board of Health.

The CDC estimates each year in the United States, 47 million unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions are written.

The agency says it is important to take these drugs only when needed because of the risk for harmful side effects and antibiotic-resistant infections.

"Doctors are really really well trained and well qualified to pick this out, the problem is like everybody else they're humans," he commented.

It is an issue Dr. Venglarcik relates to kids nagging their parents to get what they want.

"How many times can they sit down there and bang you at the knee and sit down and say they want something before you let them have the phone. Is it five times, eight times, ten times but you cave. Everybody that's hearing us talk they know you're going to cave, the kids know you're going to cave maybe 973 times but they know you're going to cave," said Dr. Venglarcik.  

"It's the same thing with certain patients. They know if they continue to call their doctor and call their doctor and call their doctor they're going to cave and give them an antibiotic," he said.

In the end, experts say it is really important to have an open honest conversation with your doctor.

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