If you have the signs and symptoms of appendicitis, emergency room doctors usually rush to have the organ removed.
Maybe they shouldn't be in such a hurry, because doctors in Europe have been treating appendicitis with antibiotics for years -- and the latest study confirms that many of the patients who get the meds avoid surgery altogether.
Researchers used data on 900 patients from four studies -- 430 who had surgery right out of the gate, and 470 who started out with antibiotics -- and found that that 63 percent of those who got the drugs were able to skip the scalpel.
The rest had a return of the symptoms and eventually needed surgery. The downside of that is you could end up facing the pain of appendicitis twice: first when you go to get the antibiotics, and then again later -- months or even a year later -- when the condition returns and the appendix needs to come out.
That's no picnic.
But the upside is that if you're in the 63 percent who can beat the condition with antibiotics alone, you don't have to face the risks that come with surgery. In fact, patients who were able to treat the appendicitis with antibiotics alone had a 39 percent lower risk of complications.
So while doctors are usually too quick to prescribe antibiotics for too many patients, this is one case where they might not be using them enough.
Just remember that while there are times when antibiotics are necessary, they can also lay waste to your gut flora -- including the "good" bacteria your stomach needs for proper digestion (and to help keep the "bad" bacteria in check).
The best way to keep balance while on antibiotics is to take a probiotic strain that's been tested in humans. I recommend taking a probiotic for at least a month after your antibiotic prescription has ended.
I'll have more on probiotics in the June issue of Health Revelations. If you're already a subscriber, it's on its way to your house right now. If you're not, sign up today and you'll get access to it in my online archives.