Elaina Collins, PA-C delivers the scoop on antibiotic resistance, when you may need them, and how to feel well without them.

What is antibiotic resistance?

Each time a person takes an antibiotic, sensitive bacteria are killed but the stronger, resistant bacteria may grow and multiply. These microorganisms have the potential to become “superbugs.” As a result, antimicrobial medications can become ineffective and infections can persist in the body, increasing the risk of spread to others. Antimicrobial resistance threatens the effective prevention and treatment of an increasing range of infections caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi. While resistance occurs naturally over time, the misuse and overuse of antimicrobials is accelerating this process, both in humans and in animals. Antimicrobial resistant microbes are found in people, animals, food, and the environment, making them easy to spread through poor infection control and inappropriate food-handling. Read more here.

What illnesses are treated with antibiotics, and what are signs you may need one?

Choosing whether or not a patient needs an antibiotic is not black-and-white, but through evidence-based guidelines and clinical sense, we do our best to decide whether or not an antibiotic is warranted.

Consider Antibiotics When:

  • Sinus Congestion: you don’t get better after 10 days, plus your sinuses are very tender to touch. (The common cold is caused by a virus, but if congestion is at its worse by day 10, you may need an antibiotic).

  • Cough: you don’t get better after 10 days, plus you’re short of breath and spiking fevers. (Statistically, a cough is viral during the first 7-10 days. After this, it has the potential to turn into bacterial bronchitis or pneumonia).

  • Sore throat: you have a sudden-onset sore throat and fever, often in the absence of other symptoms. (A sore throat can be caused by both a virus and bacteria. It can be difficult to decipher between the two, a sore throat may be a reason to see the doctor).

  • Urinary Tract Infection: You have burning or frequency with urination. (Urinary tract infections are caused by bacteria. This is an indication for an antibiotic).

How can I feel better without antibiotics?

  • Nasal congestion: Use a Neti-pot or OTC Flonase or Nasacort. These are great at opening sinuses and decreasing inflammation

  • Cough: OTC Delsym is helpful in suppressing cough and inflammation

  • Head pressure: Ibuprofen is a great anti-inflammatory and pain-reliever. Avoid if you have high blood pressure, gastric, or kidney problems.

  • Sneezing, itchy eyes, scratchy throat: Flonase or Nasacort, as well as daily Allegra or Zyrtec while you are having symptoms

Help keep Telluride healthy this winter! Below are tips on avoiding getting sick:

  • Hand washing is the number one way to prevent the spread of disease

  • Carry an alcohol-based hand sanitizer

  • Get a flu shot! By protecting yourself from the flu, you are protecting the infants and elderly who aren’t as able to protect themselves

  • Eat a diet rich in healthy fruits and vegetables, consider a Vitamin C and D supplement daily

  • Take probiotics to help populate your gut with health-promoting bacteria