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Essay 2

Are antibiotics absolutely necessary whenever a patient is sick? Many infections that
doctors intend to diagnose are difficult to identify due to symptom similarities among many
infections. While some argue that antibiotics are overused, others argue that antibiotics should
always be prescribed. Antibiotics can be overused if the diagnosis is mistreated by untrained
medical professionals or if patient lacks knowledge of how antibiotics work. Many current
medical programs encourages medical students to suggest lists of antibiotics whenever the
patients case is unclear. Matthiew Hoffman points out in KevinMD page that the vast majority
of physicians prescribe antibiotics to one group of patients: those who they think might have an
infection. The truth is that although bacterial infections are treated with antibiotics, the bacteria
might in effect develop resistance towards the antibiotic with time if it is overused in a vast area.
In another scenario, Kent Sepkowitz points out in The New England Journal of Medicine that
blood work, radiology results, and the physical exam declare their limits to the practicing doctor
every day. Often, when we are stumped and lost in caring for a patient, we turn, thankfully, to a
prescription for an antibiotic. Just in case. An example of misuse of antibiotics is when the
ambulatory patients who come in with common infection symptoms such as cough and a runny
nose are prescribed with antibiotics meant for specific infections. Without doubt, antibiotics are
overused and might have dramatic consequences in the long run.
The majority of ENT infections are caused by viruses. Ear infections can be caused by
either bacteria or viruses, but frequently result from viral infections of the nose and throat. Ear
infections generally cause itching, swelling, and in some instances pain of the ear canal. In the
article How are Ear Infections Diagnosed? WebMD points out that many doctors are
concerned that without antibiotics, bacteria lurking inside the middle ear can grow out of control,

possibly causing hearing loss or mastoiditis. Thus, physicians treat the infection frequently with
antibiotics in the infected area, although antibiotic application may be completely unnecessary.
Like many other respiratory infections, these infections are mainly from viral descent. A
common nose infection, sinusitis, causes headache pain, toothache, and fatigue: symptoms that
are common with many other viral and bacterial infections. Throat infections such as a strep
throat, caused by Streptococcus bacteria, causes cough, difficulty swallowing, and fatigue. Since
the majority of similar diseases share the same symptoms, the diagnosis is difficult to identify
and doctors in turn prescribe a great amount of antibiotics. There are many implications of being
sick as ones health improvement may require isolation, rest, and time for the body to combat the
infection. Also, being away from school or work may put a kid behind on study material, while
for an adult who works part-time without many benefits may suffer from loss of income for that
time period. In many instances when sick children go to a doctor, the parents want to implement
all preventative measures to ensure the health of their kids. Thus, frequent antibiotic prescription
is common for kids.
What exactly are antibiotics? As Mayoclinic points out in an article that antibiotics are
effective against bacterial infections, certain fungal infections and some kinds of parasites.
Antibiotics do not work against viruses. Most antibiotics work by inducing cell death or by
inhibiting cell growth. In a manuscript from the National Library of Medicine, M. Kohanski, D.
Dwyer, and J. Collins point out that most antibiotics that induce death inhibit DNA synthesis,
RNA synthesis, cell wall synthesis, or protein synthesis. Antibiotics are made to disrupt
activities from bacteria, but viruses have no organelles or metabolism and require of other cells
to reproduce: Viruses are not alive.

Currently, a person who feels sick intuitively starts taking antibiotics. People lack
knowledge of the how antibiotics work, their correct usage, and the implications of its frequent
intake. Antibiotics not only have no benefit of dealing with viral infections but also worsen the
effectiveness of the bacterial infection that the antibiotic was supposed to treat. If an antibiotic is
not taken as prescribed for a full cycle, but rather for a small fraction, most of the bacteria might
be wiped out but the surviving bacteria will develop strong resistant to the antibiotic and in turn
spread. This is a significant problem if a patient decided not to take the full cycle of a top-notch
antibiotic since the risk of death is increased. Also, doctors should be more careful in prescribing
antibiotics by characterizing the infection with accuracy, and not only parents but the society as a
whole should understand the true value of antibiotics.
Works Cited
"Antibiotics: Misuse Puts You and Others at Risk." Mayo Clinic. 2014. Web. 10 Sept. 2014.
"Ear Infection Treatments: Are Antibiotics Necessary?" WebMD. WebMD, 2014. Web. 11 Sept.
Hoffman, Matthiew. "Doctors Who Prescribe Too Many Antibiotics: It's Not That Simple." 12 Aug. 2012. Web. 11 Sept. 2014.
Kohanski, Michael A., Daniel J. Dwyer, and James J. Collins. "How Antibiotics Kill Bacteria:
From Targets to Networks." National Center for Biotechnology Information. National
Institute of Health, 4 May 2010. Web. 09 Sept. 2014.
Sepkowitz, Kent A. "Finland, Weinstein, and the Birth of Antibiotic Regret." New England
Journal of Medicine. NEJM, 12 July 2012. Web. 11 Sept. 2014.