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Show 1172: How Can Antibiotics Affect Your Brain?

Antibiotic overuse is troubling for many reasons. It contributes to bacterial resistance, but in addition certain antibiotics affect your brain negatively.
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How Can Antibiotics Affect Your Brain?

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Antibiotics are crucial for treating serious infections, but the specter of bacterial resistance to antibiotics is scary. Many public health experts have called for more diligent antibiotic stewardship to protect the usefulness of these medication.

How Might Antibiotics Affect Your Brain?

Some physicians point to other, equally compelling reasons to use antibiotics more judiciously. They have potential side effects ranging from diarrhea or rashes to altered mental status, kidney injury or heart rhythm problems. As a result, doctors should prescribe them only when they are necessary. Dr. Sara Cosgrove describes how fluoroquinolones can damage tendons and how such antibiotics can affect your brain. Older people may be especially vulnerable to the cognitive impact. How can we protect them and ourselves?

The Pain of Gout:

When uric acid crystals build up in joints, the result can be swelling, redness and excruciating pain. Gout affects an estimated 4 percent of American adults: roughly 6 million men and 2 million women. Anyone who has experienced a gout attack would rather not have another, but about four-fifths of gout sufferers will have a second attack within three years of the first episode. How is gout treated? What drugs are most helpful? Find out how you can reduce your likelihood of a second attack with diet and lifestyle measures.

How to Treat Incontinence:

If you release urine when you don’t intend to, you have urinary incontinence. Doctors classify common cases of incontinence into two different categories: stress incontinence and urge incontinence. If coughing, sneezing, running, jumping or lifting a heavy object are triggers, that is stress incontinence due to pressure on the bladder. Urge incontinence is caused by contraction of the bladder muscle, with a sense of “gotta go NOW.”

Incontinence is embarrassing. Many women deal with either of these problems by using pads in their underwear, and don’t bring it up with their physicians. However, there are treatments that can be effective. Learn about the pros and cons of surgical treatments and medications used to ease incontinence.

This Week’s Guests:

Sara Cosgrove, MD, MS, is an infectious disease physician, the Director of the Antimicrobial Stewardship Program at The Johns Hopkins Hospital and a Professor of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Her research and practice focus on development of tools and programs to promote appropriate use of antibiotics to improve the safety of patients and prevent antibiotic resistance. Her article on adverse events related to antibiotic use in the hospital was published in JAMA Internal Medicine in September 2017

Chad Deal, MD, is head of the Center for Osteoporosis and Metabolic Bone Disease and a board-certified rheumatologist at the Cleveland Clinic.

Peter C. Jeppson, MD, is Division Director of Urogynecology at University of New Mexico. He is board-certified in both Obstetrics and Gynecology and Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery. In addition, he is a fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and a fellow of the American College of Surgeons.

Listen to the Podcast:

The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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  • Tamma PD et al, "Association of adverse events with antibiotic use in hospitalized patients." JAMA Internal Medicine, Sep. 2017. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.1938
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