Apr 15, 2013 9:24 AM by Marissa Torres
A new government study reveals that U.S. doctors are prescribing enough antibiotics to give them to 4 out of 5 Americans every year; an alarming pace that suggests they're being overused. Overuse is one reason that antibiotics are losing their strength - making infections harder to treat.
Pharmacist James Black says he's seen changes in the way doctors prescribe antiobiotics.
"Some of the local doctors, instead of changing to a different antibiotic when one doesn't work, they will try increasing the strength to see if they get effective treatment that way."
It depends on the severity of the illness. A person with pneumonia may be prescribed one of the newer kinds of antibiotics to treat it. If you have something like a sinus infection, a doctor may first try an older kind because they don't want you to build up any kind of resistance to the newer type. If you were to get a more serious illness in the future, it may not be as effective.
"You can have cases where you have bacteria without an antibiotic to treat it if the resistance increases enough."
The report is the first detailed look at usage of these medications in every state.
It finds over prescribing is highest among southern and appalachian states. Some of the highest rates were reported in West Virginia - Kentucky - and Tennessee - where about 12-hundred prescriptions were written for every one-thousand people.