Battling Bugs: A Better Antibiotic?
My boyfriend has an infection that hasn't cleared up despite the fact that he's been on several antibiotics. I just heard that a new antibiotic has been approved. What can you tell me about it? Should my boyfriend ask for it?
In April of this year, the Food and Drug Administration approved an antibiotic that comes from a new class of drugs that act differently from earlier antibiotics. It's great news. The newcomer, Zyvox, will be used against bacteria that have become resistant to other antibiotics -- specifically, Enterococcus faecium (which has become resistant to vancomycin) and Staphylococcus aureus (which used to be controlled with methicillin), two very nasty bugs. Infections from these bacteria typically occur among hospitalized patients and those whose immune systems are suppressed.
Since you haven't told me the type of infection your friend has, I can't say if this new antibiotic will help him. However, I think physicians will be much more cautious about prescribing it. The last thing we want is to use this drug inappropriately and have bacteria become resistant to IT.
I encourage people to look for alternatives to antibiotics whenever possible and to reserve them for situations where they are really needed, such as bacterial infections in vital organs or fast-moving infections the immune system can't contain.
Garlic, for instance, is a natural antibiotic that can help your body combat bacterial infections -- and it even works against fungal infections and viruses when you eat it raw. I recommend one to two cloves of garlic a day for people with chronic infections. Other herbs, such as echinacea purpurea (or purple coneflower), give the immune system a boost and help your body fight bugs better.
If you must take an antibiotic, be sure to follow your prescription exactly -- and don't end treatment early because you start to feel better. (Ending treatment early leaves bacteria weakened -- but alive -- and allows them time to grow stronger and become resistant.) And because a course of antibiotics can destroy the beneficial bacteria in your gut and encourage the development of resistant organisms, I recommend taking supplemental acidophilus for as long as you're on an antibiotic to protect your digestive system.