Q & A with Dr. Filozov: Antibiotics
We’ve all been there. You don’t feel well, and all you want is relief. You head to your local Urgent Care Center, or to your primary care physician’s office, and you are expecting a prescription for an antibiotic. You don’t get one. Why?
Dr. Alina Filozov, Middlesex Hospital’s chief of Infectious Disease, explains what a doctor must consider before writing that prescription.
What is an antibiotic and how can it help patients?
Dr. Filozov: Antibiotics treat infections caused by bacteria. Bacterial infections can include pneumonia, cellulitis and urinary infections. Without the use of antibiotics, these infections cannot be cured.
Why do physicians sometimes choose not to prescribe an antibiotic?
Dr. Filozov: Antibiotics are prescribed when bacteria cause an infection. Antibiotics do not work against viruses, such as the common cold, and when combatting nasal congestion or a cough. Antibiotics are not always the answer.
What are your risks when you take an antibiotic?
Dr. Filozov: If used improperly, bacteria become resistant to antibiotics over time. If antibiotics are used too frequently, and without real need, bacteria become even more resistant to all available treatments.
Antibiotics can also cause allergic reactions, blood abnormalities, kidney and liver problems and infectious diarrhea. Because of this, your doctors must always weigh the risks and the benefits of antibiotic use before writing a prescription.
What else should patients know about antibiotics?
Dr. Filozov: Doctors are running out of antibiotics that will help cure infections because of the high resistance of bacteria! This reinforces the idea that we should only use antibiotics when absolutely necessary.
Patients should also be able to distinguish allergic reactions to antibiotics from intolerance. If you claim to be allergic to a certain antibiotic, but are not, it will limit your treatment options and could leave you with a less than optimal treatment.
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