Finally, a little common sense when it comes to antibiotics: A leading medical group is urging docs to stop using these drugs for sinus infections.
Right now, roughly 15 percent of us suffer these infections every year -- and most are given 10 days of amoxicillin for it, despite the fact that up to 98 percent of all sinus infections are caused by viruses.
And antibiotics, as I'm sure you know, are worthless against viruses.
Now, the Infectious Diseases Society of America is telling docs to quit it -- because the overuse of these drugs comes with some serious risks.
Along with the added costs to medical care, the drugs expose patients to side effects for no good reason. The most well known and immediate, of course, is diarrhea.
But these drugs also pack a bigger risk that you might not feel right away. They kill off nearly all of the bacteria in your stomach, including many of the good bugs you need to stay healthy.
And that can cause more than just stomach problems, since there's increasing evidence that imbalances in gut flora can play a role in everything from mental illness to muscular disorders.
Call it one more reason to make sure you take a probiotic whenever you take an antibiotic.
But that's just the impact on a personal level -- and that's small potatoes compared to the big picture here. The overuse of antibiotics has led to the rise of drug-resistant superbugs, and that affects all of us... whether we've taken these meds or not.
Sinus infections are actually a case in point.
They're the fifth most common reason these drugs are used, and the main one -- the amoxicillin I mentioned earlier -- is losing effectiveness in the small percentage of infections that really are caused by bacteria.
As a result, the new treatment guidelines call for a different antibiotic in the rare cases they're actually needed, amoxicillin-clavulanate instead of amoxicillin, and for five days instead of 10.
The change for antibiotics alone is revolutionary -- but they didn't stop there. The Society is also calling on docs to stop dishing out all the other meds commonly recommended for sinus patients, including the decongestants and antihistamines that have been proven to actually make the condition worse.
Instead, one of the new recommendations is for nasal irrigation with a sterile solution -- an honest-to-goodness all-natural remedy.
Of course, issuing new guidelines is only half the battle.
Now let's see if docs actually follow them.