Since they were introduced in the early 1900s, antibiotics have been used heavily in the treatment of bacterial infections, and have saved millions of lives. Unfortunately, today, antibiotics have gone from being lifesavers to potential threats.

Doctors tend to over-prescribe antibiotics as a means of treating illnesses that could be bacterial, but are often not. This is a problem on several levels.

Another issue is that antibiotics are not completely harmless. Like all drugs, antibiotics can have their fair share of side-effects, some of them dangerous.

For example, the antibiotic Avelox causes several side effects that can be serious, and even life threatening. These side effects can include convulsions, peripheral neuropathy, photosensitivity, and even psychotic reactions. In fact, the instances of peripheral neuropathy have been so prevalent that there are several class action lawsuits in the works, which you can learn more about here.

Get a Second Opinion
If your doctor has prescribed medication to treat cold or flu symptoms, such as head and chest congestion, or a cough, you should get a second opinion. As we stated before, antibiotics are only effective in treating bacterial infections. Some viral infections can become bacterial, but it’s best to have the doctor do a culture to detect the presence of bacteria.

Alternatives to Antibiotics
Wait for it To Resolve
Some bacterial infections don’t need antibiotic therapy.

For example, bacterial sinus infections will often resolve on their own over time, and antibiotics don’t really make much difference.

While you are waiting for the illness to resolve, you can use over-the-counter and natural remedies to treat your symptoms, including:

  • Homeopathic remedies to treat runny nose and congestion;
  • Over-the-counter pain killers for body aches;
  • Hot and cold compresses over the eyes to treat sinus headaches and congestion;
  • Neti pots or nasal irrigation to flush the sinuses;
  • Eucalyptus chest rubs;
  • Steam;
  • Room humidifiers; and
  • Plenty of rest.

Try a Natural Antibiotic
The first antibiotic was made from a naturally-occurring mold. That natural mold was then synthesized in a lab to create penicillin, and from that technology came all of the other antibiotic drugs in use today. However, molds aren’t the only source of natural antibiotics. In fact, there are several herbs and foods that have antibacterial properties, and can help you treat minor infections.

Consult an Alternative Medicine Practitioner
Herbalists, naturopaths, and other alternative medicine practitioners often have treatments that can help relieve your symptoms, and even resolve the actual infection without antibiotics or other drugs.

Things to Consider
While it is possible to treat some infections on your own, without mainstream medical intervention, there are times when you should consider seeing a doctor and taking antibiotics:

  • If you have a fever that persists for several days;
  • If your heart rate is increased;
  • If your notice fast or shallow breathing;
  • If you have an infected injury and the area around the injury is inflamed with red streaks radiating out from it;
  • If you have difficulty thinking or concentrating; and
  • If you notice pain and stiffness in your neck.

These could be a sign that the infection is worsening, or that it is spreading to other areas of your body. In severe cases, you could develop sepsis, which can affect multiple organ systems, or the infection could spread to the brain and the membrane surrounding the brain and spinal cord.

Both sepsis and infections in and around the brain are potentially life-threatening.