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There was a time when a shot of penicillin or some other antibiotic was the cure-all for just about any infection.

Over time, however, various bacteria have become resistant to antibiotics and, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 23,000 people die annually from infections. Some even take out hospitalized patients who already suffer from weakened immune systems and contract the infections during surgical procedures.

Dr. Jennifer Caudle, a family medicine physician and assistant professor in the department of Family Medicine at Rowan University- School of Osteopathic Medicine, says antibiotics have been used so widely for so long that the organisms they were designed to kill have adapted to them, making the drugs less effective.

The problem was driven home after three members of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers were diagnosed Monday with Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus ,  known as MRSA, a staph infection that is resistant to many antibiotics.

Caudle said prevention is the best way to fight these so-called resistant “superbugs” like MRSA.

“This is something we are seeing more in the communities. You know, this is something that we used to see in hospitals en route cropping up into communities nationwide,” Caudle said Monday in an interview with CNN.

“You know, really what we need to be talking about here is prevention, how to prevent it, how it’s also spread and things like that and also how to treat it because it is something that we do see crop in certain environments, not only sports athletes, but military daycare centers, places where there is  –  environment.”

Environment, Caudle said, includes friction and person-to-person contact, the kind often encountered in sports competitions or situations where someone may be in close contact with someone who has cuts or lesions on the skin, or sharing towels and personal products.

“So, remember, we have bacteria that just live on us. It’s sort of we like are colonized with it,” Caudle said in the interview. “With MRSA or Staph, we can actually be colonized with the bacteria. It doesn’t cause us any problems at all. The way that we can actually track the infection of MRSA, and we should also talk about the types of infections it causes. But if we have a break in the skin, it can cause the bacteria to get in and cause an infection.”

Hospital infections, Caudle said, tend to get into the bloodstream and can also cause pneumonia. Some infections occur at surgical sites, where incisions are made. Other infections can stem from simple human contact between otherwise healthy people.

The infections often look like some sort of bug bite, or a bad pimple. Without treatment, though, these skin infections can become severe.

But the risk of infection is not so severe that healthy people should feel that they have to give up sports or social events.

“The CDC says it’s OK to keep playing sports. We are talking multiple sports. Remember, wrestlers get this. Other sports players that have close contact. The CDC says it’s OK to keep playing as long as you keep the wound properly covered. No leakage, no drainage,” Caudle said. “The wound is not likely to get injured in playing the sport.”

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Can flagyl treat bacteria growth beneath skin?
Flagyl treats many types of infections. To determine whether Flagyl will treat the bacteria growth you are referring to really depends on the bacteria type and the nature of the infection.

Does your body become resistant to the z pack medication?
It is more about the BACTERIA becoming resistant to antibiotics than your body becoming resistant to antibiotics. Bacteria can become resistant to many antibiotics. Your doctor can help determine which antibiotic is best for your condition.

What is too much penicillin? Once a yer, twice, etc
What is important is for patients to be treated appropriately- this means receiving the right antibiotic for the right condition at the right time. Different people often require different amounts of antibiotics and whether or not the person should have an antibiotic really depends on the medical condition and the health of the patient. Your doctor should help determine what is appropriate for you.

What can a person do if they are allergic to the ‘cillin’ family. What are our options?
There are many antibiotics other than penicillin that are used to treat infectious conditions. If you are allergic to penicillin and you need an antibiotic, your doctor should prescribe a different antibiotic.

I don’t take antibiotics unless really necessary.  If I catch bacteria from a person who is resistant to antibiotics, will they still work for me?
It is the bacteria that becomes resistant to antibiotics, not the person. Whether or not an antibiotic works for you will depend on the bacteria and the type of infection that’s being treated.

Does the overeating of meat (animals) treated by antibiotics have any affect on increased human resistance to the drug?
The CDC states that: “Antibiotics are widely used in food-producing animals. This use contributes to the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in food-producing animals. These resistant bacteria can contaminate the foods that come from those animals, and persons who consume these foods can develop antibiotic-resistant infections.” Please view cdc.gov for more information

What is the cause and treatment of under arm boils?
Many people suffer with underarm “boils”. They can be caused by many things such as ingrown hairs and bacterial infections. See your doctor to determine what type of “boil” you might have. If the “Boil” is caused by bacterial infection it might be treated with draining the boil and/or antibiotics. However, the treatment really depends on the exact diagnosis.

How does one reverse adverse effects of medication like weight gain?
The most important thing is to find out if the weight gain you are referring to is caused by a particular medication. Medications and antibiotics can have many side effects and you should speak with your doctor about which symptoms may be caused by medication.

My daughter had strep throat 5 times the year she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Could antibiotics have contributed to this?
There are some medical conditions, such as Diabetes etc, that could make it easier for some people to get infections. Antibiotics are medications that are used to treat infections; they are often used to treat strep throat as well as many other infections.

I have been told I need to take antibiotics before EVERY dental procedure since age 7. I am much older now, should I continue this?
Some people do need to take antibiotics before dental procedures. But whether you need to continue taking them really depends on WHY you were advised to take them in the first place. You want to speak with your doctor about the condition that the antibiotic is intended to prevent/treat and then you can discuss with your doctor whether you need to keep taking them or not!

I was wondering if you were diagnosed and treated for mrsa before, are you more susceptible in the future?
It is possible to get MRSA again if you have had it in the past. But here are some ways to protect yourself:

1. Hygiene is essential!! Wash your hands often and clean body regularly, especially after exercise.
2. Keep cuts, scrapes, and wounds clean and covered until healed.
3. Don’t share personal items such as towels and razors.
4. See your doctor right away if you think you have an infection!

After a week of my kidneys punching me I got to the doctor on October 1st and she prescribed Cipro 500mg 2x a day. I finished the week and called back because I didn’t feel 90% yet. She didn’t refill but told me to keep flushing water and give it another week. I still feel 90%, no punches, but “tired” in that area. Do I need more Cipro? Or, what else could it be?
I would recommend actually going back to see your doctor in the office so that you can be examined in person again. Your doctor will then be able to determine the next course of action, whether this is doing more tests (such as another urine test, etc) or prescribing other meds, etc. As a general rule, I recommend to my patients that if their symptoms are not improving or are worsening they should come back to see me!

I previously had an infection on my knee that started out as a pimple.   I went to the doctor and was given an antibiotic  that seemed to do  the trick. It did appear that the infection moved from my knee to my calf and eventually in tandem with taking the medications it went away. Question, a month later I have another pimple and it appeared to get infected again.  I popped the pimple and it cleared up.   Should I be concerned?
It is difficult to say what these “pimples” are exactly -they may be infections or they may be something else. I recommend going in to your doctor right away if you get another “pimple” so your doctor can see how the lesion looks when you first get them. Avoid squeezing or popping these, because they can be made worse.

Is two Z pacs a year too much?
There is not a set number of how many antibiotics are “too much.” But you can speak with your doctor about what conditions you would need an antibiotic for and which ones you don’t need an antibiotic for, as antibiotics should only be taken when needed. Remember to only take antibiotics when prescribed to you by a physician, take them completely and do not stop taking them even if your symptoms go away.

One thought on “Prevention Beats Antibiotics for Infections

  1. MRSA is much more widespread than most people know or would believe. There was a time when it was considered more or less a hospital infection, but it is way beyond that now. The worst part is, you could have it and not even know it. The eruptions look like really red, inflamed, hot to the touch, insect bites of some sort. A lot of Dr.’s don’t even always know what it looks like. Sometimes, there’s no eruptions and you just carry it, or worse pass it and never even know it. Contact sports is far from the only way to get it … it could be as simple as shaking someone’s hand with a small open cut. Daycares, schools, churches, and workplaces are all environments where MRSA could be running rampant. I wish the Dr. had talked more about prevention. Other than meticulous hand-washing and carrying an alcohol based hand sanitizer and using it frequently, I am unaware of any way to minimize the spread of this potentially deadly infection.

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