It's not exactly what springs to mind when you think of a drug overdose sending someone to the hospital. Images of back alley deals, dimly lit hallways and dirty needles flood your consciousness. But that's not always the case. In fact, the real culprit may be the usually life-saving gold standard of medications, penicillin.
Researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) find that the good guys don't always yield good outcomes. Antibiotics are truly a miraculous class of drugs, responsible for saving millions of lives. But, because they are so effective, we've adopted a more-is-better attitude. And, say the scientists, that is precisely the problem.
Complications from antibiotic use send an estimated 140,000 people to emergency rooms each year. It accounts for over 19 percent of all drug-related ER visits, with 78 percent of the visits being due to an allergic reaction. The negative reactions may be as simple as a rash, or they may be anaphylaxis, a serious reaction that can be fatal. The final 22 percent of antibiotic-related ER visits are due to errors and the aforementioned overdoses.
We're hooked on antibiotics. Over 100 million prescriptions are written for antibiotics each year. Oh, yes - the pharmaceutical industry has a hand in this as well: they spend over $1 billion each year promoting antibiotics.
So, exercise some caution. Sometimes all that's needed to cure a common cold is a bit of common rest.