PUBLISHED: 10:54 AM on Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Get in the know about the 'crud'

  Dr. Norvin Perez
As a physician and a recent Juneau arrival I have come to learn the local lingo of an age-old problem - the Juneau "crud."

There seems to be an almost mystical belief that anything that causes a stuffy nose, headache, congestion, dry cough, ear or sinus pain is due to the "crud."

This "crud" is everywhere, hiding behind windows and in corners, ready to jump at you and contaminate your body and make you sick.

The "crud" is not an outside phenomenon but a distinct home grown bacteriological weapon that only terrorizes Juneau residents and leaves the cruise passengers unscathed.

But in this article I would like to clarify to the general Juneau population what many of my colleagues in the medical field have attempted to explain for many years.

The Juneau "crud" is nothing more than cold viruses.

Cold viruses are the microorganisms not susceptible to antibiotics that affect your entire respiratory system and body. These viruses will affect your sinuses, nose, throat, ears and chest and will make your entire body ache.

Most of the time these viruses affect several or all of these areas simultaneously.

Did you know that taking antibiotics will not kill the cold viruses?

Plus taking antibiotics when they are not necessary will increase your risk of getting an infection later that resists antibiotic treatment.

The belief from the general population that the Juneau "crud" can be cured by antibiotic is making our own contribution to one of the world's most pressing public health problems: antibiotic resistance.

The danger is that the more we use antibiotics inappropriately, the more bacteria resistance to antibiotics we create in our community.

This in turn will result in difficulty to treat common infections that once were easily treatable with antibiotics.

When antibiotics fail to work, the consequences are longer-lasting illnesses, more doctor visits or extended hospital stays, and the need for more expensive and toxic medications. Some resistant infections can cause death.

Sick individuals aren't the only people who can suffer the consequences.

Families and entire communities feel the impact when disease-causing germs become resistant to antibiotics.

These antibiotic-resistant bacteria can quickly spread to family members, school mates and co-workers - threatening the community with a new strain of infectious disease that is more difficult to cure and more expensive to treat.

Now with all that being said and this being a free country you can choose not to believe it and still request an antibiotic from your doctor to treat the "crud."

Your doctor will attempt to explain that the "crud" does not exist and that it is nothing more than the common cold virus.

The end result of taking antibiotics for a virus illness is that the virus will happily continue to live and swim in your body while your decision of taking useless antibiotics affects the rest of us by increasing the number of resistant microbes in our community.

Be a good neighbor trust your doctor and call things for what they are.

Dr. Norvin Perez, MD is the chief physician and owner of Juneau Urgent Care.