As we age, maintaining our health and strong immunity becomes even more important. Recent research found that the attempt to reduce the number of unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions has been largely unsuccessful, leading to an increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
The research, presented by the Brigham and Women’s Hospital last week, identified the prescription rates for different conditions. A sore throat in an adult resulted in an antibiotic prescription 60% of the time, despite the fact that only 10% of adults with a sore throat have strep. Even worse, adults diagnosed with acute bronchitis, a condition that requires zero antibiotics, received an antibiotic prescription 73% of the time.
Senior author Jeffrey A. Linder, physician and researcher at BWH, explained the problem with these excessive prescription trends: “We know that antibiotic prescribing, particularly to patients who are not likely to benefit from it, increases the prevalence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, a growing concern both here in the United States and around the world”.
Though the number of annual visits for sore throats has decreased substantially over the past 14 years, the overall national antibiotic prescribing rate did not change. The number of patients with acute bronchitis, on the other hand, increased three-fold between 1996 and 2010. The antibiotic prescribing rate in the emergency room also increased 4% over that same time period.
The research was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and the Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality. New research has already begun in an attempt to reduce the high prevalence of antibiotic prescriptions for respiratory infections.
Because excessive antibiotic prescriptions can lead to an increase of resistant bacteria and the subsequent reduced immunity in adults, it is crucial that antibiotics only be consumed when absolutely necessary. The high incidence of prescription is a major problem and holds the potential to induce a mass reduced immunity if the trend continues.
Focus On Your Health
Keeping up with your health can help you avoid a hospital or emergency room visit and help you remain healthy for as long as possible. Though a sore throat might be annoying, it is not always a cause for medication, and that is important to keep in mind if you decide to go in for a doctor’s visit. Accepting medication when it is unnecessary may actually do your immunity more harm than good.
Following a properly balanced diet and a regular exercise routine throughout your senior years will help keep your health in tip top shape and reduce the chance that you will end up in the doctor’s office and emergency room. Though it is estimated that 7 in 10 American seniors will need long term care at some point, keeping up with your health will help you avoid becoming a part of that statistic. Read more about ways to maintain your health as you age or the risk of long term care and how to plan for it.