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Over the past few days, people have asked me for antibiotics for the following conditions.

  • pinched nerve of the arm
  • chronic bursitis of the elbow
  • allergies
  • food poisoning
  • the common cold (I get this request every single day)
  • recurring, mild insect bites (she felt that antibiotics would make the insects leave her alone; I am not making this up)
  • “just not feeling well”
  • insomnia
  • chest pains
  • the common cold when they were already on antibiotics for something else

I have never been able to really understand where this obsession with antibiotics comes from, or the logic people employ. To many, antibiotics are a panacea, the everything drug. The antibiotic pill knows what’s wrong with you, finds it, and just makes it all better. It is every answer to every health question. All injuries mend, all disorders right themselves under the watchful gaze of the antibiotic pill. It is truly the manna of the Lord.

My trying to tell them that antibiotics only kill bacteria, without any other benefit, comes across as rank blasphemy. Like I am robbing them of their faith. What do I know? Where is their Zpak?

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