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October 3rd, 2013
12:00 PM ET

Doctors still overprescribing antibiotics

With all the talk of "superbugs" and antibiotic-resistant bacteria, you might think prescriptions for unnecessary antibiotics is relatively infrequent, especially for conditions where these drugs rarely work.

New research from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston suggests the opposite. Dr. Michael L. Barnett, lead author, and Dr. Jeffrey A. Linder, senior author, found that prescriptions of antibiotics for sore throat and acute bronchitis are far more common than they should be.

"You have a viral infection for which the antibiotics are not going to help, and you’re putting a chemical in your body that has a very real chance of hurting you," Linder said. Side effects of antibiotics include diarrhea, vaginitis in women, interactions with other medications and more serious reactions in a small number of people.

Also concerning: When you take antibiotics, there's a chance the disease you're fighting - or other bacteria in your body - will mutate, making it more resistant to antibiotics in the future.

"People may have infections that are harder to treat down the line because we're overusing antibiotics today," Linder said.
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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