Antibiotics: is there anything they can’t do?

Until fairly recently, gastric ulcers were a disease of stress and spicy food.  Those things probably did make it worse, but it turned out ulcers were almost always caused by overuse of NSAIDS or an H. pylori infection.

Back pain is the prototypical malingerer’s disease.  The medical establishment isn’t saying you’re faking it, but given that back pain is positively correlated with low job satisfaction, to the point that job tenure and unemployment are considered when predicting someone’s recovery time.  The most charitable explanation is that the pain is real, but working through it is ultimately more beneficial than rest, so people who love their job or hobby enough push themselves through it, and people who hate their job don’t have the incentive.  The uncharitable explanation is that they’re faking it because they are lazy.

Or maybe they have a severe bacterial infection.  There’s new evidence that people who fail to recover after a herniated disk are suffering from a bacterial infection that can be treated with prolonged antibiotics.  Patients treated with antibiotics continued to improve after the antibiotics were discontinued, suggesting they got to the root of the problem.

And then there’s a bunch of non-specific symptoms that may or may not be associated with chronic Lyme disease, which may or may not be cured by antitbiotics.  And even though Toxoplasmosis is not a bacteria, the treatments are commonly used antibiotics.  Part of me wants to recommend everyone take a broad spectrum antibiotic holiday every few years, just to sweep up all the low level things that must exist but we don’t know to look for.

But you still can’t have them for the flu.  That’s just stupid.

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