Is Flu Season Antibiotic Season?

Woman wrapped in scarf and hat wiping her nose


This time of year I see so many patients taking antibiotics

During the winter months every year, there is a sharp increase of people contracting colds and flu. There are many contributing factors to this:

  • We spend more time indoors in congested quarters making it easier to transmit infections.
  • We get less sun exposure so vitamin D levels decline so we become lacking in the support for a healthy immune function that Vitamin D provides.
  • We tend to socialize more around the holidays, which increases our exposure to infection.
  • We tend to be more sedentary during colder weather, which can down play our immune system.
  • Cold weather tends to stimulate more mucus production increasing the chances for trans-contamination of others.
  • Cold weather tends to stress the immune system more, making us more susceptible to contracting illness.

Regardless of the various causes, the winter is commensurate with flu season. And along with flu season comes a marked increase in the prescribing of antibiotics.


Antibiotics Inappropriately Prescribed?

I remember from my days working in the ER the dramatic increase in the volume of patients we saw during the flu season. Most of them complained about nasal, sinus and upper respiratory congestion. Most of them had a viral illness, which is what the flu is. But many times antibiotics were prescribed mostly as a precaution against the possibility of a bacterial component.

Ideally, to prescribe an antibiotic, it is recommended to document the offending organism with a culture. Many times this is not done as there is a delayed time factor involved, and it requires follow up to contact the patient with results. This becomes problematic in a busy ER with high volumes of patients. So to expedite the process we often prescribed antibiotics without proper cultures just to ” cover all bases”. In some countries antibiotics are actually available over the counter without a prescription, further contributing to the worldwide problem of bacterial resistance.

Technically this is BAD medicine because we are often using a medication that is not needed and which can contribute to the bigger problem of antibiotic resistance.  This resistance is becoming a huge problem today as witnessed by the evolution of “Superbugs” which are virtually resistant to ALL antibiotics.

This is a frightening concept, as it could propel us back into the dark ages of death from resistant organisms with no treatment options.


The Antibiotic Quandary

You may wonder how we got into this antibiotic quandary.

Prior to the discovery of penicillin (the first antibiotic) in the early 20th century, there were no options for infectious diseases. Pneumonia, TB and wound infections were considered fatal diseases. The discovery of penicillin is one of the greatest breakthroughs ever in the history of medicine. We became so excited about the concept of taking a pill to cure a disease that the birth of the pharmaceutical industry exploded from this concept about 100 years ago.

Unfortunately, it now appears to be coming full circle. We have become so ingrained in the simplicity of taking a pill to cure a disease that we have strayed from the basic concepts of what those pills are actually doing in our bodies.

Personally I don’t like prescribing antibiotics unless there is a truly compelling reason to use them.  I know that antibiotics can be lifesavers when used appropriately!

But I also know that a primary problem with antibiotics is that they actually suppress immune function just when you need it most. They also kill off essential gut bacteria needed for healthy digestion. Many antibiotics commonly in use have more serious and sometimes even life threatening side effects such as kidney or liver damage and ligament ruptures.


What’s the Solution?

What can we do about it? There are options, but it is not an easy solution.

Obviously the first thing is for doctors to treat infections more accurately using appropriate diagnostic tools such as cultures, and not prescribing antibiotics to patients as though they were dispensing candy.  Antibiotics are powerful medications. And, like all medications, have unwanted and sometimes serious side effects.

Roll it back 100 years. Before the discovery of penicillin there was ozone therapy. It was used routinely in hospitals to treat all types of infections. It was very effective then and it still is.  However, when penicillin was discovered ozone fell out of favor because it was thought to be somehow “inferior” to penicillin. Now we are not so sure of that, especially with the advent of “Superbugs”, and ozone may be called upon once again.

Ozone therapy is especially helpful in the flu season, as it is effective in treating viral infections as well as helping to boost the immune system to prevent contracting illness in the first place.

I have treated patients with ozone who were suffering terrible flu symptoms that failed to respond to multiple antibiotics and steroids. Improvement of symptoms can often be very rapid, sometimes within 24 hours. And with no adverse side effects.

I Can Show You

Watch this video of a patient I dramatically helped recover from severe flu symptoms.

If you or someone you know is suffering from flu symptoms and not responding to conventional therapy, call the office now to set up a time for a treatment that can help boost your immune system to get you better quickly without the side effects of antibiotics.

Even Better! Get an ozone treatment before you get sick to help boost your immune system to prevent an illness.

Remember the old saying,

” An ounce of Prevention is worth a pound of Cure”





Dr. Howard Liebowitz
Dr. Howard Liebowitz served as a board-certified Emergency Physician for 30 years. He evolved as a healer by integrating his traditional training in Internal Medicine, his ER experience and his studies in functional medicine. Functional medicine is a discipline that strives to reverse the course of a disease rather than just treating the symptoms, which is what most traditional medicine does.


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