SA doctors over-prescribing antibiotics, posing health risk — study

South African doctors are over-prescribing antibiotics, contributing to resistance and making infections such as colds and bronchitis much more difficult to treat, according to a new study.

The research, by Wits University and the London School of Economics, found that 78% of patients sent to a public clinic and 67% sent to a private general practitioner received antibiotics even though they were not necessary.

“…unnecessary antibiotic prescribing is known to be related to…antibiotic resistance (ABR)…This poses a threat to public health as some common infections are now much more difficult to treat.” The study noted that South Africa has among the highest rates of ABR in the world.

“Respiratory tract infections, such as the common cold and acute bronchitis, are amongst the main problem areas because primary care providers prescribe antibiotics for these infections even though they are caused by viruses rather than bacteria,” noted a statement from Wits University.

The research comes ahead of the annual colds and flu season in SA with the World Health Organisation reporting that up to 600 000 thousand people die globally each year from influenza.

Health expert, Vanessa Ascencao, suggests the public boost immunity to try protect against infection. This includes regular exercise and getting enough sleep. She says a healthy, balanced diet is essential to fuel the body and feed the immune system.

“We eat too much refined and ‘junk’ food, red meat and sugar when we should be nourishing the body with whole, natural, fibrous foods like fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains such as brown rice and raw oats, and limited, quality, organic protein such as ethically farmed lean meat, poultry and fish, or seeds, nuts, beans and legumes.”

Ascencao says research indicates that vitamin D supplementation may cut flu risk significantly, while supplementing with vitamin C may shorten the duration of colds and may be helpful in supporting immunity, protecting cells from free radical damage and cardiovascular and chronic disease, and promoting muscle repair.

“A great source of vitamin D is BetterYou DLux oral spray because it has 40% proven absorption due to the rich vein system in the mouth. Also, try the new liposomal encapsulation technology in Biomax Liposomal Vitamin C which is proven to increase the bioavailability of vitamin C in the body.” Ascencao suggests the following additional tips to stay healthy this winter:

  • Drink plenty of liquids. Try adding lemon, honey, ginger and garlic to water.
  • Manage stress and anxiety — try yoga, mindfulness or meditation.
  • Consult a health and wellness expert to help improve your quality of life.

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