What you need to know about antibiotics!
Physicians will not provide a prescription for antibiotics without first observing you. The reason… Antibiotics only help to destroy bacteria specifically. This includes illnesses like bacterial pneumonias, strep throat, bacterial ear infections, pertussis (or whooping cough), some STDs (like chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis), tuberculosis – really nasty bugs.
Viruses, on the other hand, tend to be much more common than any bacteria that I just mentioned (at least here in the U.S.). Viruses affect almost all of us at one point or another. The common cold and flu viruses run rampant particularly during the winter.
Unfortunately, in spite of what you may have heard, antibiotics don’t do a thing for viruses. So how can you tell the difference between a viral and a bacterial illness?
The Differences Between Bacteria and Viruses
Although bacteria and viruses are both too small to be seen without a microscope, they’re as different as giraffes and goldfish.
Bacteria are relatively complex, single-celled creatures with a rigid wall and a thin, rubbery membrane surrounding the fluid inside the cell. They can reproduce on their own and can survive in different environments, including extreme heat and cold, radioactive waste, and the human body.
Most bacteria are harmless, and some actually help by digesting food, destroying disease-causing microbes, fighting cancer cells, and providing essential nutrients. Fewer than 1% of bacteria cause diseases in people.
Viruses can’t survive without a host. They can only reproduce by attaching themselves to cells. In most cases, they reprogram the cells to make new viruses until the cells burst and die. In other cases, they turn normal cells into malignant or cancerous cells.
Also, unlike bacteria, most viruses do cause disease, and they’re quite specific about the cells they attack. For example, certain viruses attack cells in the liver, respiratory system, or blood. In some cases, viruses target bacteria.
Tips To Help Identify The Difference
Knowing the difference between a viral and bacterial illness may save you time and money. Here are four tips to help you determine when an illness could be viral or bacterial, and perhaps when to see a doctor.
- Location. A viral illness typically causes wide-spread symptoms. A bacteria usually causes site-specific symptoms, such as those involving the sinuses, throat, or chest.
- Phlegm color. A virus may produce clear or cloudy mucous, if any. A bacterial illness typically causes colored phlegm (green, yellow, bloody or brown-tinged).
- Duration of illness. Most viral illnesses last 2 to 10 days. A bacterial illness commonly will last longer than 10 days.
- Fever. A viral infection may or may not cause a fever. A bacterial illness notoriously causes a fever (normal body temperature is 98.6, a fever is considered greater than 100 degrees Fahrenheit).
A person is no longer considered contagious once on an antibiotic for 24 hours and any fever has been resolved. If your symptoms do not resolve, or if at any time you develop a severe headache or neck pain, persistent nausea / vomiting or a fever, be sure to see a doctor promptly.
Source – Dr. Linda Petter //www.auburn-reporter.com/lifestyle/105719383.html
Antibiotics to Cache and Why
No antibiotic is effective against every type of microbe. Certain ones will kill aerobic bacteria, others are used for anaerobic bacteria, still others are effective against resistant strains, and certain people are allergic to or intolerant of various antibiotics. The following are all generics, running about $10 for about a month’s treatment.[divider style=”thin” title=”” text_align=””]
- Amoxicillin is the old standby for most respiratory infections (probably most of which are viral and don’t even require antibiotics). It is excellent for strep throat and some strains of pneumococcal bacteria. It is also safe for children and pregnant women. It is well-tolerated, causing little stomach distress or diarrhea. The drawbacks are that some people are truly allergic, and many bacteria have developed resistance to amoxicillin (especially staph) through overuse among both humans and animals. Anyone truly allergic to amoxicillin should substitute erythromycin or another antibiotic.
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- Cephalexin works on most of the same bacteria as amoxicillin, plus is stronger against Staph aureus, which mostly causes skin infections. It rarely works against MRSA (resistant staph), however. It is also well-tolerated in children and is safe in pregnant women, causing few side-effects. Like any antibiotic, it carries the risk of allergy. People who develop anaphylaxis (a life-threatening allergy) with amoxicillin probably should not take cephalexin, as there is a good 10% cross-reactivity between the two. If I had to choose between stockpiling amoxicillin or cephalexin, I would choose cephalexin. The combination drug, amoxicillin-clavulanate (Augmentin), is as strong against staph, but more expensive and harder on the stomach.
- Ciprofloxacin is useful for anthrax (which I’ve never seen), urinary tract and prostate infections (which are very common), and many forms of pneumonia and bronchitis. One of the more important and selective uses of ciprofloxacin is in combination with metronidazole for diverticulitis. This potentially life-threatening infection usually (or at least often) requires two antibiotics to resolve. (Levaquin and Avelox are a bit stronger than ciprofloxacin and could be substituted for this, but are much more expensive.) Ciprofloxacin is not used in women or children unless the benefit clearly outweighs the risk, although the risk of joint damage (seen in animals) appears minimal. Taking ciprofloxacin by mouth is nearly as effective as taking by IV.
- Metronidazole is an unusual antibiotic used for very specific infections. It is aimed primarily at anaerobic bacteria, primarily those found in the intestine. It is also used for certain STDs, including trichomonas. As mentioned above, it is very useful in combination with ciprofloxacin (or SMZ-TMP, below) for diverticulitis. It is the only inexpensive antibiotic effective for Clostridium difficile (c. diff, or antibiotic-related) colitis. It is also effective against certain amoeba. This drug is not used in children unless the benefit clearly outweighs the risk.
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Of these, SMZ-TMP and ciprofloxacin have the most duplicate coverage, as do cephalexin and erythromycin. Since the intolerance of erythromycin is much higher than is allergy to cephalexin, I would favor cephalexin. Ciprofloxacin is stronger for intra-abdominal infections than SMZ-TMP, and is less likely to develop resistance. Although its use in children is a bit of a concern due to the question of joint pain (although this is rare), I would favor ciprofloxacin over than SMZ-TMP, even though SMZ-TMP is effective against MRSA. However, when the use of antibiotics is severely curtailed, antibiotic resistance will also decrease, and therefore MRSA will become less of a concern.
Therefore, my top three antibiotics to stockpile would be
Using these three alone or in combination would cover around 90% of the infections physicians commonly encounter, as well as several less-likely threats (including anthrax and C. diff).
Source: Cynthia J. Koelker, MD 101 Ways to Save Money on Health Care
The Best Way To Store Antibiotics.
Every antibiotic decays at a particular rate, as proteins (oligopeptides) are subject to hydrolization, the main form of attack, so heat and moisture are the enemy.
If you plan to store them long term the individual foil packs they come in are the best. Then pack them in sealed containers with desiccants to be sure.
How Long Can They Be Used After They Expire?
Manufacturers put expiration dates on for marketing, rather than scientific, reasons,” said Mr. Flaherty, a formal pharmacist at the FDA. “It’s not profitable for them to have products on a shelf for 10 years. They want turnover.”
With time, most antibiotics simply become less effective? The question really should be “how long are these antibiotics expected to last?”
- Amoxicillin (tablets) – 5 years after the expiration date
- Clarithromycin and Doxycycline (tablets) – 5 years after the expiration date
- Ciprofloxacin (tablets) – 10 years after the expiration date
- Metronidazole (tablets) – 3 years after expiration date