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a silent salute: The audience "claps" at Joke Night during Deaf Awareness week. Click Arts&Life for a link to story. / Photo by Leah Lopshire

Today's word on journalism

December 15, 2008

As part of my own personal "war on Christmas" (which a Utah state senator has offered legislation to outlaw), the WORD celebrates the season by going on hiatus until January. May all out days be merry and bright, and here’s to a safe, healthy and saner New Year. HoHoHo!

Empty Minds: "Of all the people expressing their mental vacuity, none has a better excuse for an empty head than the newspaperman: If he pauses to restock his brain, he invites onrushing deadlines to trample him flat. Broadcasting the contents of empty minds is what most of us do most of the time, and nobody more relentlessly than I."

--Russell Baker, Pulitzer-winning columnist

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Feedback and suggestions --printable and otherwise --always welcome. "There are no false opinions."

Antibiotics not always the best cure

By Diane Denning

November 7, 2008 | One billion people a year are diagnosed with acute or subacute rhinosinusitis in the United States. Symptoms of this illness include stuffy nose, tooth pain, and pressure in your face, which can worsen when you bend forward. Are these symptoms starting to sound familiar?

Rhinosinusitis is the medical term for what the rest of us know as a sinus infection. The pressures, the cough, the runny nose, and an achy body all accompany this illness. Each one of these symptoms complicates our already busy lives and makes us slow down. In this day and age, slowing down only means money loss, which is unacceptable. So what do we do, we go to the doctor and get an antibiotic to fix it.

Overdoses on antibiotics are happening more and more and it has got to stop. Antibiotics are not the answer to every ache and pain in our bodies. According to an article written by five MD's entitled Acute Sinusitis and Rhinosinusitis in Adults, 98 percent of adult patients in the United States are prescribed an antibiotic when seen for a sinus infection. But 75 percent of all sinus infections resolve without any treatment in one month.

Through these statistics we learn that sinus infections are treated with antibiotics when they are not necessary. Robert Slack, D.O., is a family practitioner in Highland, Utah. Slack said he has patients who actually come in after three to five days of experiencing cold like symptoms and want an antibiotic to cure their sinus infection. Not only do they ask for the antibiotics numerous times, but some patients even demand Slack give them one. They don't pause and listen to his diagnosis; the patients assume they already know what is wrong.

"People go to the doctor to get an antibiotic," Slack said. "They don't go to get educated about how to treat their illness. It is the expectation of 'I am sick and have been for two days. I can't afford to be sick anymore.'"

This is the mentality that is affecting Americans everywhere. It is easier to get an antibiotic that to slow down and let the human body heal a sinus infection naturally.

Antibiotics can harm your body if they are taken too often, which will also hurt your wallet. According to Acute Sinusitis and Rhinosinusitis in Adults, Americans spend $3 billion a year on medications, doctor visits, tests and procedures to treat their sinus infections.

I have to admit I have been one of those billion people with a sinus infection and I also wanted an antibiotic to fix my sickness as quickly as possible. Earlier this year I had a sinus infection which lasted for over two months. After two weeks of dealing with the annoying symptoms, I went to the doctor. He diagnosed me with a sinus infection and promptly wrote out a prescription for an antibiotic. I took the medication as prescribed, but oddly enough, I didn't get better. In fact, it took another entire month after I had finished the ten day antibiotic before I felt the infection was completely cleared up.

Pediatrician Dr. Craig Armstrong has been practicing medicine for 27 years with 23 of those years being here in Cache Valley. He agrees prescribing an antibiotic for a sinus infection is happening too often. Armstrong also said diagnosing a sinus infection in a child is much harder than in an adult, and most times involves expensive tests. A small child can't say where it hurts or exactly how they hurt, so if the children have had symptoms such as a runny nose and have been miserable and fussy for a couple of weeks, doctors assume it's a sinus infection.

"Moms come in and expect an antibiotic and we give it," Armstrong said. "They seem to think it works."

Most Americans seem to have this same mind set that if they are on some type of medication they must be feeling better, even if the medication really isn't doing anything.

The world today seems to be all about how fast we can accomplish our to-do lists. High speed internet, drive through restaurants, overnight shipping, high powered transportation, and immediate communication due to cell phones. With all of these ways to get things done faster than ever, we seem to have less time than before. We as American's are running 100 mph and getting a sinus infection doesn't fit into our schedules. Instead of slowing down when we get sick and letting the amazing human body work to heal itself, we run to the doctor and get an antibiotic to quickly fix it.

"Each person is an individual case," Armstrong said. "Diagnosing each illness is the art of medicine, not the science."

Antibiotics are not the best way to "fix" a sinus infection. They are expensive and if used to often can have repercussions later in life. Listen to your doctor and the advice they give. Doctors do know what they are talking about. Don't get caught up in abusing antibiotics by just assuming they will quickly make you feel better.


Copyright 1997-2008 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-3292
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