Why some doctors are quick to prescribe them

Some doctors do prescribe antibiotics unnecessarily for viral infections, and they do it for a variety of reasons, including demand from patients ("Curing the antibiotics 'disease'"; Feb 2).

It is true that most infections are due to viruses and do not require antibiotics.

However, doctors should not swing to the other extreme and dismiss every infection as viral, thereby missing bacterial infections that do require antibiotics.

We need to be aware that bacteria and fungi are opportunistic organisms which come in once the immunity of the patient is compromised by viral infection.

This can take place rather quickly in vulnerable patients, such as the elderly, the young and those whose immunity has been compromised.

Also, the problem of antibiotic "disease" cannot be attributed only to doctors.

Antibiotics are widely used, for instance, on animals and in food preparation, and this contributes significantly to antibiotic abuse.

It is also easy for patients to get hold of antibiotics, as well as many other controlled drugs, from countries in the region, without a doctor's prescription.

The war against the abuse of antibiotics requires battles on many fronts.

Quek Koh Choon (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 04, 2017, with the headline 'Why some doctors are quick to prescribe them'. Print Edition | Subscribe