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Is Your Kid Sick? Don't Pressure Doc for Antibiotics

While a parent’s natural inclination is to ask the doctor for an antibiotic when a child is sick, it’s best to let most coughs, colds and sore throats run their course, USA Today reports. One reason is because illnesses caused by viruses don’t respond to antibiotics. But another very important reason is that needless prescribing of antibiotics is contributing to the epidemic of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Unfortunately, too often doctors themselves are contributing to this epidemic: Despite warnings that we're quickly approaching a post-antibiotics era in which bacterial infections once easily cured by the drugs become resistant and life threatening, doctors are still prescribing too many antibiotics. From 2010 to 2011, 262 million people received prescriptions for antibiotics from their physicians — of these, about 30 percent were unnecessary.

The results of decades of this practice are that in the U.S., at least 2 million people are infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria every year, and at least 23,000 die as a result. By the year 2030, antibiotic-resistant disease — if left to spiral out of control — is expected to have killed 100 million.

What’s devastating is that one of the worst offenders of antibiotic overuse is industrial agriculture, which relies on antibiotics to keep concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) going.

If you want to help stop this massive abuse of antibiotics, refuse to buy any CAFO meats, dairy and eggs. Shop at your local farmers markets and make sure that your products come from organically raised, free-range stock.

Also, don’t take antibiotics yourself unless you absolutely need them — and when you do, be sure to supplement with a probiotic, as antibiotics disrupt your gut bacteria.
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