Taking Antibiotics

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I’ve felt ill-ish for the past two weeks.  I’ve had this nagging sore throat, just on one side, that isn’t going away.  Initially I thought it might have something to do with a questionable tooth, but now I’ve pooh-poohed that idea.

Anyway, after the race on Saturday, I was drinking a protein shake, and when I swallowed, my throat got way worse, like 10 X as painful.  Plus the pain wasn’t just a mild sore throat, when I swallowed, but it was sharp and radiated up towards my ear.  This was a big change in just a few seconds.

It stayed like this for a night, then Vincent told me sometimes, when he has a sore throat, he puts salt directly on the sore area using a wet Q tip covered with salt.  I thought, why not?  I did this a few times and my throat actually felt a little better.  Not as good as it it initially, but better.

But, yesterday I woke up again with a bad sore throat.  Or 1/2 sore throat really, since it is only on one side.

The weird part of the whole thing is that I really haven’t felt bad in any other way.  Yesterday I thought that it  was moving into my chest.  I felt a pain in the middle of my back, between my shoulder blades, that felt like it was from my chest.  But, it hasn’t really gone there.

This all started when I went back home a couple weeks ago and my brother Kris was super sick. Sore throat, coughing yellow stuff, the whole deal.  I thought I had avoided it, but my throat got sore, then I drove out here.  Bill came out and he got a sore throat within a couple days.  Then he started coughing, etc.  In the meantime, Kris’ friend Rita got ill too.  Both Kris and Rita took Zithromax, with Rita getting better instantly and Kris feeling the same.

I’ve written before about Zithromax.  It is a no-no for athletes.  Plus, it makes me feel like shit forever.

It has been nearly a month for Kris and he says he’s 95% good.  Bill said he feels better too, but not 100%.  I’m teetering on the edge.  I can’t decide whether to go to minor-med and get it checked out, or just try to ride the whole ordeal out.  I’ve never had  a sore throat this long in my life.

I have some friends in Wisconsin and they told me their daughters, who are in college, have never taken any antibiotics in their lives.  I found this nearly impossible.  How could they have lived nearly 20 years and never contracted an illness that nearly mandates antibiotics.  A bad ear infection, strep throat, etc.   Really, I think it is great, but just don’t understand.  By the time I was in college, I’d taken handfuls of antibiotics.

Anyway, I don’t get along well with antibiotics. Like I said above,  I won’t take Zithromax.  It gets rid of the symptoms, but I can’t pedal my bike worth for nearly a month after.  I’ve taken antibiotics a couple of times in the last 5 years and they didn’t seem to bother me all that much, but I don’t remember the name.

I know if I go to minor-med, they are going to prescribe some general upper respiratory antibiotic.  That is what they do.   I have three weeks until Leadville, so I’m thinking maybe I should just bite the bullet and do it.  I am getting just a little worse everyday lately.  But, maybe it will clear on its own?

The problem is my legs have felt pretty good riding at altitude.  I don’t have much air yet, but that is to be expected.  I’m trying to ride higher, over 10000 feet as much as possible. Monday I rode to Leadville and back from Silverthorne, over Freemont Pass, and yesterday rode MTB bikes high above Breckenridge.

Today we’re meeting up with some other guys and riding the Dirty Copper Triangle from Copper Mtn.  It is only 30 miles, but pretty steep climbing and lots of riding over 11000-12000 feet.   I don’t seem to be getting that much worse just continuing to train, so I’m just going with it, as of now.

Anyway, I’ll decide after the ride today.  I’ll see how I feel at the end and then make a spur of the moment decision.  Probably not the best way to deal with it, but I don’t have the knowledge to really do it any other way.  It’s really hard to know what is best until after the fact, looking back.



Vincent is carrying this bag of Fig Newtons with him this morning.  This worries me immensely.

Vincent is carrying this bag of Fig Newtons with him this morning. This worries me immensely.

26 thoughts on “Taking Antibiotics

  1. Mark

    Try gargling with hydrogen peroxide. Pretty much always helps me when I have throat issues. Also eating foods that are really hot “temperature wise” seems to have a cauterizing effect. Hot ramen noodles seem to work well.

  2. Ian Robertson

    Hey Steve. I get a somewhat similar symptom when I’m in the early stages of having a sinus infection. I won’t have any other classic symptom, but a sore throat and/or a bit of a caugh are thebfiratbsigns for me. If so, I’ve been able to head it off now a couple times using sinus rinse.

    Might be worth a shot to see – certainly a no harm kinda thing.

  3. Tanner

    I can see the ‘no antibiotics’ thing being possible with those girls. I have only had them once in my 33 years (that I know of) and it was after a bike crash. I said no to the stitches and they super glued the wound closed and it got infected. As far as being a kid without them I remember spending 2-3 days on my living room couch with strep (recovering naturally). I don’t recommend this, but my mom was a naturalist. I contribute not taking them to my current health though. I rarely get sick. Could be unrelated though.

  4. Robo

    “but I can’t pedal my bike worth for nearly a month after”

    Which is worse: Not being able to pedal because of illness, or not being able to pedal because of antibiotics? Seems like the downside of taking antibiotics is limited, whereas the downside of doing nothing is unlimited. I would take the antibiotics now so you can train and hopefully be as close to 100% by Leadville as possible.

  5. old and slow

    Very likely strep throat, which I can get this time of year like clockwork in Colorado, when it’s real dry. I was living in Estes Park the first time it happened to me and the GP said that 40 percent of the residents probably had it.

    You didn’t mention the headache symptom but you are co-existing with people now who might have low level strep all summer long themselves just from living out here. You never had this happen when you lived in Boulder, Steve?

  6. Biff Bradford

    I’m 55 and the only time I’ve ever been on antibiotics was after getting run down by a truck and spending 2 weeks in the hospital I picked up some MRSA and was on IV antibiotics after discharge. Other than that, I’ve never needed antibiotics. Just lucky to have the right genes I guess. :^)

    1. Jason

      Yeah, I’ve never been prescribed antibiotics except for infected wounds in my 38 years.

  7. Pepsi Frank

    Rest is the biggest factor in getting over a cold, flu, sore throat, etc. Two or three days sleeping as much as possible, with no physical exertion, should make anything feel much better. If it’s worse at this point go see a doctor.

    Last year Chris Horner missed the Tour because he had bronchitis. Two months later he missed the Vuelta because he still had bronchitis. With a few days of real rest before the Tour he could have ridden both. Continuing to train through an illness will cause it to linger for a very long time.

    It sounds like Rita had that proper rest component that you and Kris are missing.

  8. LD

    Why not get a throat culture and find out if you’re dealing with an infection like strep? You’ve given it long enough to heal on its own. Strep can become serious – scarlet fever, rheumatic fever with potential heart damage. Get tested, then decide your next step.

  9. Russell

    Steve, you’re definitely ready for a throat culture. If it is Strep, you’re due for antibiotics. Antibiotics are a miracle of medicine. Being dependent on them is a medical disaster. The good news is that when you need them, the antibiotics will actually work since you haven’t built up a resistance to them by using them for viral infections for which they are useless. This is not a misuse of the drugs. This may be what they are for. If it isn’t a bacterial infection and the doctor prescribes them, then you are looking at the problem -which is the dispenser not the drug.

    1. krakatoa

      Amen. Go to the doctor. Don’t let this advance to the rheumatic fever stage (which will end not just racing, but cycling too). Quit listening to all the “baby boomer hippie healers” and perhaps TALK to the doc about your concerns about the meds. You might be able to win-win.

  10. krakatoa

    Ah, this kind of crazy Tilly post again. Steve posts about an obvious medial problem he’s having and all of the ways he has avoided seeking qualified medical treatment. Then some viewers with medical training will tell him that he really needs to see a doctor to treat his obvious infection. Of course, he’ll ignore all of the advice, sprinkle some magic medical pot on it (or: insert remedy here), place top-six in his next event anyway (deeming us all as being FOS) and continue dodging bullet after medical bullet.

    He can win MTB races, but still can’t walk right, 14 months post-op for hip surgery.

      1. Steve Tilford Post author

        Frank-You have no idea what you’re saying. I spent 3 weeks in Vail at the Steadman Clinic, the best orthopedic center in the world, and 3 times a week in Topeka, with a super physical therapist, for 4 months after surgery.

        Do you have any idea the extent of the injuries were to my shoulder? How much of my rotator cuff was actually reattached? I doubt it. And I would appreciate it if you wouldn’t make false statements.

        I’m starting to feel a little picked on here.

    1. Steve Tilford Post author

      Krakatoa-You ever have hip surgery? If not, then maybe I have a little more knowledge and experience than you on the subject.

      And the Velonews article- I’ve already done at least two separate posts on the subject, over a year ago. ( http://stevetilford.com/2014/07/20/extreme-exercise-and-the-heart/) Plus, I went to the leading cardiologist on the subject, Dr. James O’Keefe, and had a heart scan done.

      I assume you are an endurance athlete? And I very much doubt that you’ve addressed this issue. If I’m correct then it seems that you are “ignoring” prudent medical advise or maybe “sprinkling some magic medical pot on it” and just hoping you don’t have an issue.

      I know I don’t any heart issues because I addressed that situation. It is much different than having a sore throat or recovering from a major surgery.

      It’s pretty easy to be an armchair quarterback when it comes to medicine. I would hope that maybe you might realize that each of us has different bodies and responds to treatment differently.

      I believe I do a pretty good job at staying on top of my health issues. Obviously, I feel mildly insulted from your comment.

      1. krakatoa


        Yes I have had hip surgery. An almost identical situation to yours (albeit on the other side). And you and I both know what kind of standard medical advice we were given in the weeks afterward. You didn’t allow yourself to be the “wuss” of a recovering patient that everyone else ends up being. You travelled far for your surgery to get “the best” surgeon, but then once home, you did crazy-insane DIY non-physical therapy. Essentially tossing “the best” out the window. You got back on a bike WAY sooner than you should have, and your priority was racing over just merely walking well.

        When your dog was sick, you decided you were also a vet, and secured EPO.

        After Steve Larsen (RIP) died, I went and had a CT scan of my heart and was checked-out by a cardiologist.

        Sorry to have insulted you. I’m actually a fan of over 30 years. But sometimes your stubborn ways drives me crazy. You sometimes are a bit lacking in humility.

      1. krakatoa

        Nah, you were right to feel offended. My intention was to jokingly point out how friggin resistant you seem to be to just following (or even seeking) qualified medical advice. I didn’t end up writing it that way. Apologies again. I love your site and read it each day.

  11. H Luce

    *This* sounds like angina, I’d get in to a cardiologist or at least get an EKG and get cleared to make sure: “Yesterday I thought that it was moving into my chest. I felt a pain in the middle of my back, between my shoulder blades, that felt like it was from my chest. But, it hasn’t really gone there.” And I’d get seen ASAP, too.

    1. Steve Tilford Post author

      Mike-I had my spleen removed when I was 6 years old. The spleen filters your blood, which aids in fighting lung infections. I’ve had to take pneumonia shots since I was a kid. It sort of a drag. Plus, the spleen holds a big reserve of blood, which has a very high hematocrit, another drag if you’re an athlete. But, I don’t have one, so I have to deal with the issues involved with that.

      Endurance athletics puts a huge strain on their bodies. I think athletes, in general, get sick more than the average person, but that’s just one of my observations.

  12. Jeff D.

    About 25 years ago I had a really bad upper respiratory infection, I was hard headed as heck and would not go the the doctor, I felt awful but would still go the work, this went on for a least a month. Finally I threw in the towel and went to a Doctor, He gave me a shot of something, steroid maybe and prescribed an
    antibiotic. Felt so much better the next day and was pretty much over it by week’s end. Now if I get sick (usually 2 times per year, once winter, once summer)and if I’m not better in 4-5 days off to the Doctor I go…not wasting time being sick!!! Oh yeah, I also go to a cardiologist every 2 years, just to get checked out, and I’m 12 weeks out from a total hip replacement ,rehabbed like mad and I still limp a bit (lol)…

  13. john adamson

    Just wait until he turns ahhhh 69 and health issues are all he’ll post about…


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