The Antibiotic crisis: What it is and how it could affect YOUR family!

What are antibiotics and how do they work?

Antibiotics have long been hailed as the heroes of modern medicine. These medicines are used to prevent and fight bacterial infections such as urinary tract infections or strep throat. Antibiotics only treat bacterial infections and cannot fight against viral infections such as cold and flu.

Both bacterial and viral infections are caused by microbes and spread through coughing and sneezing, contact with contaminated food, water or surfaces, as well as contact with infected people or animals. Bacteria are living organisms and can be found everywhere (on your skin, in water, soil, plants, animals).

Most bacteria are harmless, and provide vital nutrients, fight cancer cells, destroy disease-causing microbes and also help to digest food.  In fact, bacteria are essential to health! Harmful bacteria ( less than 1%) can attack the body, multiply and cause illness. Antibiotics are then prescribed to kill off these bacteria and stop their growth.

Viruses are tinier than bacteria. Unlike bacteria, they are not alive and will grow by attaching themselves to cells, reprogramming them to make new viruses until they eventually die.  In other instances, they also turn normal cells cancerous or cause malignant cells. Most viruses cause disease and illness and they invade specific cells in the respiratory system, liver or blood.
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Why antibiotic resistance is causing concern

Different types of bacteria are becoming more and more resistant to antibiotic treatments. The reason for this is that when antibiotics are overused (used frequently or inappropriately), this causes bacteria to change and as a result the antibiotics then become less and less effective. For example, many  people take antibiotics to treat colds and flu and, as antibiotics are not effective against viruses, this not only does not work, but it also contributes toward the development of bacteria which are difficult to kill.

Resistant bacteria are often harder to treat and usually need stronger or higher doses of antibiotics.Previously, bacteria responded remarkably well to antibiotics, but infections which cause pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, tuberculosis and skin infections are now becoming more and more resistant to antibiotics. This can clearly be seen in the recent development of Multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), which is a type of TB infection caused by bacteria that are resistant to treatment with at least two of the most powerful first-line treatment anti-TB drugs, isoniazid (INH) and rifampicin (RMP).

The other major problem with antibiotics is that they also kill off the good bacteria in your body, causing in an imbalance (often resulting in thrush infection). They can cause a bout of diarrhea, leaving the system weakened.

When antibiotic-resistant bacteria infect families, schools, hospitals, or the workplace, it puts entire communities at risk thereby making it difficult to cure. Treatments are also more costly as those who are affected may require longer duration of treatments.
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Sometimes illness is good for the body

Modern medicine strives to eliminate illness, via antibiotics, vaccinations and chemical treatment of symptoms whenever they rear their head. Similarly, we are taught that every surface of our bodies, homes and institutions like hospitals should be sterilised to eradicate bacteria wherever they may be.  But did you know that illness is also good for you in many ways?

Childhood illnesses help to strengthen the immune system and in adulthood, colds, ‘flu and other occasional infections have the same effect. By allowing your body to overcome illness, rather than relying on antibiotics, you are strengthening your system and developing resistance to future infections.
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How can I take antibiotics safely?

Holistic health practitioners point out that the word ‘anti-biotic’ literally translates to ‘against life- - anti = against, biotic = life. This is because antibiotics, as we have seen, destroy not only the offending organisms, but also the good ones which maintain balance in our bodies.

It is therefore advised that antibiotics should be used very cautiously and conservatively – only in cases where it becomes obvious that the body is not recovering or when health risks are high.

Furthermore,  antibiotics should be taken ONLY to treat bacterial infections and not viral infections like colds and flu that are caused by viruses and should be allowed to run their course, thereby preventing antibiotic resistant germs from developing.
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How can I help my family and my community to prevent the antibiotic crisis from worsening?

There is increasing concern worldwide that, unless we change the way we use antibiotics, as well as other antibacterial chemicals, the antibiotic crisis will worsen, making it more and more difficult to treat serious and life threatening bacterial infections such as TB and pneumonia.
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Here are some things that YOU can do:

1. Prevention is better than cure: Don’t wait for illness to strike and then rush to the doctor. Care for yourself by following a healthy lifestyle, with a nutritious diet, regular exercise and daily fresh air and sunshine.

You can also use herbal medicine to strengthen your immune system – try Immunity Plus by Feelgood Health (teenagers and adults) or KiddieBoost (children under 12) at the beginning of winter. This will make it less likely that you will develop an infection. It can also help to speed up recovery if you do fall ill, acting as a natural antibiotic.

2. Consider a homeopathic version of the ‘flu vaccine. BaniFlu is a homeopathic tablet that contains a homeopathic preparation of the current flu virus and can help your system to develop resistance to infection, without the negative effects of live vaccines. BaniFlu can be used at the beginning of winter by all members of the family, even during pregnancy.

3. Colds and ‘flu are viral infections and do not respond to antibiotics in any case. However, sometimes they lead to secondary infections such as bronchitis, ear infections, tonsillitis or even pneumonia. Remember that natural remedies can help to prevent and treat most infections.

Feelgood Health has a wide range of natural remedies for all ages to help with congestion, chest infections, tonsillitis, ear infections and many other conditions that can often be treated without resorting to antibiotics. Similarly, minor bladder infections, allergies and other conditions may respond well to alternative treatment – just as they did before the advent of antibiotics!

Natural medicines can be just as effective as conventional medicine in treating those everyday common ailments – but are gentler on the system and do not contribute to drug resistance in your system, nor in the community. Luckily at Feelgood Health, we have a free ASK US service and more than 250 natural remedies to help you make the right choice!

4. Remember that symptoms, while they may be uncomfortable, are the body’s way of curing and it is not always a good idea to suppress them. For example, coughing and a runny nose is your body’s way of helping to expel the virus and a mild temperature creates a hostile environment for viruses, which are rather particular about the temperature of their hosts!

Try not to interfere too much. Provide a hot water bottle, lots of liquids, soup, and lots of love and allow the body to do its work!

5. Use mild and natural soaps and cleaning materials in your home rather than harsh antibacterial products.

6. When antibiotics do become necessary, make sure that you complete the course. Never use antibiotics longer than prescribed and don’t use antibiotics that were not prescribed for you!
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