Whether it’s a simple internet search, social media feeds or diet and exercise, we all tend to expect immediate results. Although fast internet and quick fixes are often a great thing, when the “quick-fix” mentality is applied to health care it becomes a whole different story.

“Urgent care clinics are prescribing too many unnecessary antibiotics, study says” (July 16) summarizes the findings of a nationwide study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, of prescribing in urgent care centers and retail health clinics.

It also sheds light on how many people think of antibiotics as cure-alls for any kind of illness. Here’s the issue: Antibiotics were created to save lives by fighting harmful infections caused by bacteria. They don’t kill off viruses, and serve no purpose if your body is fighting off something like a seasonal cold or flu. Taking unnecessary antibiotics can allow strong bacteria to survive and multiply, and eventually these bacteria can cause illnesses our antibiotics can’t easily cure.

We need to reduce antibiotic use in health care settings and in our food system, where the drugs are often used unnecessarily to produce large amounts of cheaper meat.

What can you do? Don’t pressure your physician to give you antibiotics, and buy meat from producers that don’t misuse these important medicines. If we keep thinking of antibiotics as quick fixes, we will soon find ourselves in a world where common infections kill.

Katie Kelley


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