The University Record, October 11, 1999

Medicine at Michigan

From the U-M Health System

Help prevent the rise of ‘superbugs’

The next time your child gets an ear infection, or you start to sniffle, you might want to resist the urge to ask your doctor for an antibiotic. And if you have leftover antibiotics from your last infection, throw them away—don’t use them for the new flare-up.

By doing so, you could be helping prevent the development of a new “superbug” bacteria strain, one that can’t be stopped by antibiotics.

It’s not that you shouldn’t use antibiotics if your doctor prescribes them, experts say. Antibiotics are extremely useful drugs for fighting bacterial infection, and pharmaceutical companies have developed specialized ones for different conditions. But it’s important to use antibiotics more sparingly and appropriately than in the past, because scientists now know that misuse and overuse can lead to the evolution of drug-resistant bacteria.

When a cold may be more than a cold

Have you ever had a cold that lasts for weeks, if not months? It may be that your cold has developed into a bothersome, if not dangerous, bacterial sinus infection known as sinusitis.

Left untreated, it can cause asthma, a troublesome cough and even play havoc with your sense of smell and taste.

Experts believe that up to 35 million Americans suffer the symptoms of sinusitis each year, accounting for a large percentage of primary care physician office visits.

Sinusitis usually is preceded by a cold and develops when the sinuses—hollow air spaces—are inflamed and can’t drain. The bacteria in your respiratory system then multiply, causing an infection.

A cold could be more than a cold when:

  • Your symptoms of congestion and discharge persist or worsen after seven to 10 days and don’t respond to over-the-counter cold and sinus medicine.

  • You feel facial pressure and pain.

  • You have a toothache, headache or swelling around your eyes.

  • You experience earaches or neck pain.

    Facts about sinusitis:

  • Sinusitis usually is preceded by a virus-induced cold.

  • Sinus infections do not respond to over-the-counter medication. They need to be treated with antibiotics to clear the infection.

  • Allergies are frequently associated with chronic sinusitis.

    The season of change before ‘The Change’

    In a landmark national study, U-M researchers are looking at the time leading up to and just after menopause in hopes of catching osteoporosis and other problems early and preventing unnecessary hysterectomies.

    The study recruited 3,500 women from across the United States, including 500 from Michigan. The data are being analyzed now with results coming out for years to come.

    Menopause itself has been focused on for years, because that is when many women’s health problems, such as osteoporosis and heart disease, begin to occur.

    But doctors recently have determined that the changes that lead to these problems start to occur many years prior to menopause—in the perimenopause phase.

    Facts about perimenopause:

  • All women will experience a change in menstrual cycles.

  • An estimated 80 percent of women experience additional perimenopausal symptoms.

  • Symptoms can include hot flashes, increasing PMS symptoms, mood changes, depression, difficulty concentrating, fatigue and/or insomnia, decrease in libido and urinary tract problems.

  • Perimenopause normally starts when a woman is in her late 30s to early 40s, with menopause normally occurring at about 50 years of age.