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Why You Might Not Get Prescribed Antibiotics in Urgent Care

Our patients walk through vybe urgent care’s door for lots of different reasons. From yearly physicals and flu shots, to illnesses, injuries and on-site lab services, we’re dedicated to helping with all your urgent care needs.

Our role as a healthcare provider is a unique one. It’s our responsibility to provide care at the highest clinical standard. Sometimes, though, patients who visit may already have an idea what’s wrong with them and what they need to get better. We’ll sometimes receive feedback from patients saying we didn’t treat them properly because we didn’t prescribe an antibiotic. But there’s a reason that you may leave your visit without a prescription for antibiotics.

To explain how we keep your best interests in mind, let’s dive in.

 When to use antibiotics?

While antibiotics may seem like the obvious solution to any sickness you have, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Antibiotics are only meant to treat bacterial infections and won’t do any good for viral infections such as the cold or flu. Two conditions for which antibiotics were previously commonly prescribed are Bronchitis and Sinusitis. Today, research has shown that antibiotics will not help patients heal from these conditions, in most cases.

Just because antibiotics aren’t prescribed for these illnesses, doesn’t mean you won’t get better. There’s just a better treatment option! In fact, at least one in three antibiotic prescriptions in the United States is likely unnecessary. That’s 47 million excess prescriptions every year!

In the past, prescribing these unneeded antibiotics in the hope that they might help you seemed like a reasonable thing to do, when there was no evidence that the antibiotic harmed you. Research has now shown that antibiotics harm us every time we take them. Now clinicians are being even more careful about prescribing antibiotics only when they will directly help your condition. If it’s not recognized as appropriate treatment, then why prescribe an antibiotic that can cause you harm?

What’s the harm?

Antibiotics may be common drugs, but they’re quite potent and will wipe out some of the beneficial bacteria in the gut (and wherever they exist in our bodies) every time we take them. This changes the balance of bacteria (and yeast, viruses, and other microbes or “germs”) or “flora” that exist in your gut that help you stay healthy. Everyone wants to be in balance, but it takes time for your body to naturally restore the flora in your digestive tract. And since one of the most important beneficial actions of our gut flora is to help the immune system to do its job, taking something that could harm the ability of the immune system to help us seems a particularly imprudent thing to do when we are already sick!

Of the known harms that are associated with antibiotics, none are more certain than the connection between the frequency of antibiotic use in childhood and the likelihood of adult obesity and adult-onset diabetes. There’s a broader threat, too. Taking unnecessary antibiotics can promote the development of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. According to the CDC, “Each year in the U.S., over two million people get an antibiotic-resistant infection, and at least 23,000 people die.”

There’s longer-term risk from continuing to overprescribe.

Two decades into the future, “every antibiotic we count on now will be destroyed or significantly impaired by resistance,” says Kevin Outterson, executive director of CARB-X, an organization that supports early-stage antibiotics research.

Put simply, our society is running out of effective antibiotics.

Why is this important for urgent care?

Patients often come to urgent care clinics specifically seeking antibiotics. Taking a pill can seem like “doing something”, compared to being told to treat the symptoms, get plenty of deep sleep at night and to drink plenty of fluids. Imagine if you had been prescribed a Z-Pak when you didn’t need it. Later in the year, when you truly have a bacterial infection, it may not be possible for you to take another Z-Pak. At vybe urgent care, we provide our best diagnosis to you based on the symptoms you present during your visit. If you’re not feeling better or your condition worsens, we should hear from you or see you again. Our goal is to keep you–and those around you–happy and healthy for the long haul.

Antibiotics revolutionized medicine in the 20th century and have saved millions of lives. From Penicillin’s use during World War II to now, we’re big fans of what antibiotics can do – when properly prescribed with your holistic health in mind. We’re also cognizant of their harm.

If you have questions or concerns, our team is always here to help. When you visit vybe urgent care, you’ll receive the best treatment possible, with transparency and a warm smile. Stop by any of our six locations, seven days a week, and feel better as soon as you walk in.