By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Ask Dr. Gott 12/06
Antibiotics are not a cure-all
Placeholder Image
    DEAR DR. GOTT: A friend of mine who works as a caregiver has no benefits such as medical insurance, sick leave or vacation. She cannot afford to go to the doctor, pay for prescriptions or take time off. She was told by a friend who was a medic in Vietnam that antibiotics such as penicillin and tetracycline work just as well as prescription drugs. She does this only when she is really ill. I think this practice could be dangerous. What do you think?
    DEAR READER: To begin with, penicillin and tetracycline are prescription drugs. The indiscriminate use of antibiotics can be harmful, cause unwanted side effects, such as sun sensitivity and allergic reactions, and can lead to serious bacterial resistance.
    I urge your friend to avoid antibiotics unless they are prescribed by a doctor. She should be able to find a sympathetic physician in your community who will see her at a lower charge and who will prescribe antibiotics only if they are required. Perhaps your local community has a walk-in clinic or visiting nurses' center that she can visit when she feels the need for antibiotics. She must recognize that there is no blanket antibiotic that will cover all ills. By asking the necessary questions, a physician can determine which one will work best to treat her symptoms.
    To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report "Consumer Tips on Medicine." Other readers who would like a copy should send a long, self-addressed, stamped envelope and $2 to Newsletter, to Newsletter, PO Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092. Be sure to mention the title.

    DEAR DR. GOTT: Back in 1986, when I was 21, I began taking Accutane for my acne. Back then it was a new drug. One thing that bothered me, however, was that my doctor said that a sperm sample and blood sample were necessary. During this exam, the doctor actually tried to masturbate me manually, saying I couldn't do it myself because he didn't think I'd be able to catch the sperm in the thin test tube. I refused this procedure, and he reluctantly gave me a prescription based on the blood test alone.
    Looking back, I often wonder if this procedure was really necessary or if this was simply sexual misconduct. Please give me your opinion.
    DEAR READER: Acne is a bacterial disorder, often treated with antibiotics. As such, I cannot conceive of a doctor requiring a sperm sample; therefore, I'd rate his bizarre attempted action as sexual misconduct.
    DEAR DR. GOTT: What would you recommend for numbness in the legs?
    DEAR READER: Start with your primary care physician, who will examine you, order tests of your circulation and refer you to a specialist if necessary.
Sign up for the Herald's free e-newsletter