Watch Out (WO): Common medical practices that shouldn’t be common

In this Trumpian time, it’s probably very hard to get more scared than has already been done to most of us by Small Hands Huge Mouth.

However, if like me you read medical news stories avidly, every day inevitably brings a new flood of stories to scare us even more than we were scared yesterday – swine flu in China spreading more than the authorities acknowledge (what else is new? Do the Chinese authorities ever admit to anything until they absolutely have to, exactly like, of course, American business tycoons and every government official ever elected or appointed), a bad flu season in Australia that’s likely heading over here for our winter, Zika-carrying mosquitoes likely to soon be present in most parts of the US, WHO claiming we are in a state of emergency because of no new antibiotics on the horizon, totally resistant tuberculosis spreading in Asia, totally resistant malaria spreading in Asia and possibly calamitous consequences if it hits Africa, where over 90 % of the population is at risk, totally resistant fungal infections spreading in US hospitals, totally resistant gonorrhea, and God only knows what other totally resistant bugs I missed reading about, and on and on.

And as always, alas, that’s not even close to being all.

So everyday also brings new studies and reports suggesting – actually, screaming loudly – that stuff that’s been done to you and to me for years was not only probably useless but may also have been – and continues to be – dangerous.

So over the few weeks, here’s a very partial list of some study findings and reports you might want to note about stuff you might want to avoid:

Conjunctivitis (which are mostly viral eye infections, and mostly in kids) are still way, way over-treated with antibiotics, and because kids are back in school and daycare where such infections are most easily spread, this one really bears noting

Antibiotic use on people or pets, and use of “biocidal” cleaning products such as bleach, was linked to methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in the home

A warning that children should not be routinely given antibiotics for ear infections because of concerns about reducing antibiotic effectiveness

The asthma medication montelukast (Singulair, Merck) was linked to increased depression and nightmares in both adults and children

In a pretty contentious study, use of antidepressants was associated with an overall increased risk for death

Two important caveats: No one should ever assume that a single study or report is cause to change long-standing practices so every “precautionary” study needs confirmation with more studies (sorry about that standard out but it’s really vital), and second, always do your own due diligence about anything any medical practitioner recommends for you,

Anyway,there’s lots more WO stuff out there so watch out for that in future posts.