They’re faster, often cheaper, and largely more convenient: urgent care centers are cropping up all over the US. But beware: new research has uncovered that urgent care centers prescribe antibiotics at almost twice the rate of ERs and almost three times the rate of your average office doctor. The extra prescriptions are of course going to illnesses that can’t be treated by antibiotics like the common cold, sinus infections, and other usually viral infections, leading to an increase in antibiotic resistance.
Why? It’s the same old reasons, magnified. Patients want to feel like their doctor listened and took action, but the truth is for many viral illnesses the only help and advice a doctor can give is to tell you to go home, get in bed, and drink plenty of water or other clear fluids. That’s the last thing someone who dragged themselves out of the house with a fever and a cough so they could sit in a waiting room for 40 minutes wants to hear, but it’s the truth. But getting patients in the door and having them come back (especially because antibiotics won’t be making them feel better in ten days, and might make things worse) leads to better profits.
Antibiotic resistance isn’t an abstract problem, and it isn’t just collective. One concern is that a lot of the people visiting urgent care centers are those with jobs working with the public, who might need a doctor’s note for their employer or be desperate for a quick fix so they can return to working. And for everyone prescribed extra or unnecessary antibiotics, they’re cultivating antibiotic resistant bacteria like MRSA on their skin. It might not make you sick immediately, but if you get a simple cut or scratch, or worse, need surgery, that bacteria is right there waiting to cause a serious infection.
Here’s what you can do: first, for any illness, give your immune system a chance (so long as you don’t have a known reason not to, like a chronic illness). Starting with the basics before escalating is a good illness-problem solving approach, but you have to be proactive. Take time to rest when you feel like you’re getting sick, not just when it finally knocks you out. If resting doesn’t feel like enough, start with natural immune support, like colloidal silver. Colloidal silver has been used for centuries as immune support and more, and was only replaced by antibiotics because they were cheaper and easier to make available to all people.
And be proactive with your doctor, too. Let them know that you don’t expect a prescription for your visit, especially for common viral illnesses like colds, flu, and sinus infections.
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