Why are we so dependant on antibiotics, why is it such a problem & what can we do instead when we are sick ?
Antibiotics save lives every year. I’m not completely opposed to antibiotic use, but I (like many others) am very concerned by the frequency with which they are used in Australia today. We demand more of them here than most other countries, with over 20 million scripts filled annually.
Even The World Health Organisation considers antibiotic resistance to be a very real threat to the human race. If we continue on our current trajectory with ab's, we will end up back where we were before their invention - extremely vulnerable, with many common infections posing a threat & sometimes proving fatal.
The problem lies in our complete (misguided) dependance upon them to quickly ‘fix’ any ailment that causes us discomfort…& in our ignorance of what’s actually going on inside to cause that discomfort. Discomfort is a natural part of our body fighting an infection - fever, swelling, inflammation, mucous secretion, coughing, lethargy…they’re all 'uncomfortable signs' that there’s a battle raging, but do not mean we need to race to the Dr for a script to help us 'win'. We humans & our immune systems have been dealing with all kinds of infections since we came into existence & we’ve got some pretty good systems in place to deal with them…it’s the new antibiotic resistant strains that are a problem!
We’ve created a bigger, scarier monster whilst trying to kill the first monster!
Children’s prescriptions make up a huge part of our antibiotic excess, but many are unnecessary, I believe for a few reasons..
Reason no 1
We all hate to see our babies & kids suffer (& we hate to listen to them too, they whinge & carry on like...babies & children)! So at the first sign of ‘discomfort’ (fever, pain, mucous, cough, whingeing & carrying on), most parents, feeling anxious, unsure, protective, sympathetic, helpful & sick of whingeing will quickly book an appointment with the faithful family GP - who'll do some reassuring listening, poking & prodding. The faithful GP will then usually succumb to the pressure to ‘do something’. Mum walks out relieved with a script for antibiotics & a sense of being back in control & able to help her suffering bub.
So reason no 1 is that basically humans (babies, kids, mums & Drs) dislike discomfort, whinging & feeling unable to help. We are sympathetic & helpful to our own detriment - most colds & flu’s are viral & the only thing a course of antibiotics will do is decimate the child's healthy, protective bacterial population - leaving him/her much more susceptible to the next microbe that’s going around…& then the story repeats itself!
Reason no 2
The way many modern Aussie kids spend their early years - bundled off to a childcare centre from maybe 2 years of age, eating pre-packaged sugary crap with a heap of other sickly kids, then home & straight in front of a screen, maybe with some more pre-packaged sugary crap for dinner. It’s a lifestyle that’s conducive to always being sick with a cold or flu!
Busy parents today have little time for thoughtful shopping & preparing real food, for getting the kids out into the sunshine & fresh air daily…& for just generally ‘being with’ a sick child when all they often need is a few days rest & comfort. We’ve got no time for sick days ourselves, let alone for staying home with the kids when they’re ill!
Meds = back to school or daycare so mum / dad can get back to work & bills can be paid! Antibiotics are seen to speed up the process.
Reason no 3
Most parents today have no idea how to even care for a sick child without the advice of a Dr & the use of chemical drugs. They can blame their parents & the smart marketing of pharmaceutical companies! The only home healthcare knowledge passed on by the folks to most of us was ‘take panadol or nurofen for fevers or pain', get a cough / snot remedy from the pharmacist & then straight onto antibiotics for anything ending with ‘itis’ or if things seem to be getting worse! We’ve let go of the centuries of accumulated natural healthcare wisdom used prior to drugs, & now settle for nothing less than ‘fast-acting relief’ from whatever symptoms are annoying us!
How to Avoid Antibiotics ? There are Plenty of Other Options...
So right now we’ve come to a realisation that the current pattern can’t continue - we need a new approach to treating our sick kids (& selves)!
There are plenty of options, but the most important thing is to start looking at illness differently. Sickness is part of being a human being - we will always have to deal with the odd infection, as our world (& even our own body) is teeming with microorganisms, some of which can challenge our immune system when rundown & cause us to experience discomfort from time to time.
First pill I’d recommend is a concrete one - harden the bleep up! Parents, kids & drs! A bit of snot / a fever / a sore tummy / headache / rash / cough / whatever - is not the end of the world - these are really minor discomforts in the scheme of things, which can be dealt with easily at home - no drugs required!
By all means go get the sickie checked over by your GP if worried, but if yours has a tendency to write scripts easily then find a new one, he’ll be doing the family more harm than good in the long-term! Let the doc know you’re only there for some peace of mind, & that you’re not too keen on drugs if unnecessary. Then once you’re feeling fairly sure you’re dealing with a simple viral cold or flu, go home & do whatever your body / the sickie is asking for - some rest, a lie-down in the sun, a steamy bath / shower, a lemon & honey tea, some fresh juice, soup, a hot water bottle, some cool washcloths on the forehead & anywhere else that feels good…you can swing by the health store / pharmacy / supermarket on the way home for the following to support your system:
17 Infection-fighting Tips
- A good strong herbal formula with immune-boosting, anti-viral properties - I love andrographis, echinacea & olive leaf - look for a formula with all of these, & take double the recommended dose (unless you're a super-sensitive type)!
- Vitamin c - powder or tabs - take 1000mg every hr (half that for kids) until you get loose stools, then drop dose back to 3-4000mg daily (or what you can tolerate without diarrhoea).
- Some salt to gargle in warm water, great for making your throat suddenly inhospitable to invaders. Do it as often as you can, or alternatively, gargle with fresh lemon juice, or apple cider vinegar. Kids (& adults) love to suck on teaspoons of good quality manuka honey.
- A multi-strain probiotic formula or some kefir / kombucha (great to gargle with as well), to ensure that your gut bacteria have some battle support!
- A vit c + zinc in lozenge form is great for sore throats, take double the regular dose (only for a few days - 1 week).
- Some colloidal silver to spray directly onto any skin, eye, nasal / sinus infections, & sore throats.
- A pot of manuka honey with a high umf (over 15 is good, the higher the better) for any throat / skin infections.
- Some eucalyptus or thyme oil for a steam bath / inhalation - great for when your nose is really blocked. Breathe slowly & deeply, repeat when congestion builds back up.
- Hot & cold packs (can use frozen peas / ice wrapped in a thin tea towel, & a cloth soaked in very hot water & then wrung out. Apply to areas of pain, swelling, or congestion to help keep blood flow to an area, carrying new white blood cells, & removing byproducts of the infection.
- A herbal tea or some fresh lemon, honey, garlic, ginger, apple cider vinegar & chilli to brew up & drink, keeping you hydrated with an antimicrobial cocktail.
- Some homeopathics - check your symptoms & try to match them with one of the common cold & flu remedies, though much better to seek out a local practitioner. Esp great for kids / babies.
- An extra pillow or two under your head - esp important for kids with middle-ear infections, to allow drainage / relief from night time pressure. Put bricks / books under the bed head, or they can sleep in a recliner chair / stroller propped up. Keep them more upright & not flat.
- An organic chicken carcass to throw in a pot with some other therapeutic ingredients like turmeric, ginger, chilli, fresh thyme, garlic, ginger, veggies…make a big brew & just live on this & some fresh juices & Greens+Aloe until you’re feeling hungry again.
- Paw-paw, kiwifruit, lemon & pineapple are some of the best fruits to go for when under the weather - full of mucous chewing enzymes & vitamin c.
- A water bottle - fill it up & keep it at your side, hydration is crucial for mucous membranes in your nose, lungs & throat to function properly.
- Hydrogen peroxide (3 or 6% solution), dripped straight onto infected insect bites & shallow skin infections is very effective - kids love to watch the fizzing! Keep reapplying several times daily until no more white fizzing.
- BE PATIENT…(I wonder if that’s where the meaning of the word originates?), just rest, lay back & trust in your body's own healing ability...give some natural healing a chance to happen!