Essay on Antibiotic Use in America

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Antibiotics use is as popular as ever with American people today. Every day over 190 million doses of antibiotics are administered in hospitals and more than 133 million antibiotic prescriptions are written out to non-hospitalized patients every year (4). These staggering numbers have made many skeptics question the effectiveness of these antibiotics and the frequency in which doctors prescribe them.

Antibiotics are not a one stop cure for all illnesses. In fact, antibiotics are only effective on living things; this includes bacteria, certain fungi, and specific parasites. Antibiotics have absolutely no effect on viruses, which are not living diseases (2). It is widely estimated that nearly half of the antibiotics prescribed are ineffective due to the fact they are prescribed for colds, coughs, and other viral infections (1).

Most people, especially parents, expect for physicians to administer antibiotics whenever they or their children contract an illness. Antibiotics are thought to be fast acting and a guarantee cure. While antibiotic use is substantially faster at curing symptoms of an illness, in order to be completely effective, its entire prescribed course must be completed. This is the main problem I see with the frequency of prescribed antibiotics. In order to cure a bacterial infection all of the bacteria must be killed, or else it continue to reside in a patient’s body and even build up immunities to the antibiotics (3). This process is what creates “superbugs”, bacterial strings of infectious diseases that are impervious to the current antibiotics used to treat them. The truth is that one patient’s irresponsibility to fully complete his or her antibiotic-prescribed course can create a bacteria resistant to current antibiotics and in turn infect many more people with a bacteria that is much stronger than previously thought (1). This creation of “stronger” more resistant bacteria gives a strong case for the proponents of using less antibiotics...
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