When the “Real” Doctor Won’t Prescribe Antibiotics

Image: David Pereiras/Shutterstock

I’m really miserable and need that 5 day antibiotic to get better faster.

Ninety-eight percent of the time it is a viral infection and will resolve without antibiotics.

But I can’t breathe and I can’t sleep.

You can use salt water rinses and decongestant nose spray.

But my face feels like there is a blown up balloon inside.

Try applying a warm towel to your face.

And I’m feverish and having sweats at night.

Your temp is 99.2 degrees. You can use ibuprofen or acetominophen.

But my snot is green.

That’s not unusual with viral upper respiratory infections.

And my teeth are starting to hurt and my ears are popping.

Let me know if that is not resolving in a week or so.

But I’m starting to cough.

Your lungs are clear so breathe steam, push fluids and prop up with an extra pillow.

But sometimes I cough to the point of gagging.

You can consider using this cough suppressant prescription.

But I always end up needing antibiotics.

There’s plenty of evidence they can do more harm than good. They really aren’t indicated at this point in your illness.

But I always get better faster with antibiotics.

Studies show that two weeks later there is no difference in symptoms between those treated with antibiotics and those who did self-care only.

But I have a really hard week coming up and I won’t be able to rest.

This may be your body’s way of saying that you need to evaluate your priorities.

But I just waited an hour to see you.

I really am sorry about the wait; there are a lot of sick people with this viral thing going around.

But I paid $30 co-pay today for this visit.

We do appreciate you paying so promptly on the day of service.

But I can go down the street to the walk-in clinic and for $145 they will write me an antibiotic prescription without making me feel guilty for asking.

I wouldn’t recommend taking unnecessary medication that can lead to bacterial resistance, side effects and allergic reactions. I think you can be spared the expense, inconvenience and potential risk of taking something you don’t really need.

So that’s it? Salt water rinses and wait it out? That’s all you can offer?

Let me know if your symptoms are unresolved in the next week or so.

So you spent all that time in school just to tell people they don’t need medicine?

I believe I help people heal themselves and educate them about when they do need medicine.

I’m going to go find a real doctor.

A real doctor will first do no harm. I wish you the best.

Dr. Emily Gibson is a family physician, farmer, poet, wife, mother and grandmother. She has worked in inner city primary care, community and rural health, detox and sexual assault centers, and as the medical director of a University Student Health Center for three decades. Both a photographer and writer, she shares daily about her life and work on her Barnstorming blog.

Dr. Gibson is a 2018–2019 Doximity Author.

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