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Throughout the world today, Antibiotic resistance is one of the greatest health challenges we face. It’s an unending war for the human race. Antibiotics don’t work against common cold and flu viruses and are often unnecessary for some bacterial infections. Antibiotics save lives and are critical tools for treating a number of common and more serious infections. Any time antibiotics are used, they can cause side effects and lead to antibiotic resistance, one of the most urgent threats to the global public’s health at large.
What are antibiotics and antibiotic resistance?
Antibiotics are medicines used to treat or prevent infections caused by bacteria. They work by inhibiting the growth (bacteriostatic) or destroying the bacteria cell (Bactericidal), they do this in various ways, such as inhibition of bacterial cell wall (Penicillin, Cephalosporin, vancomycin, etc), inhibition of protein synthesis (Macrolides, Aminoglycosides, tetracyclines), Inhibition of DNA replication (Fluoroquinolones), Inhibition of Folate synthesis (Sulfonamides), etc.
Antibiotic resistance is the ability of a bacterium to resist the effects of medication that once could successfully treat the microbe. The term antibiotic resistance is a subset of Antimicrobial Resistance. Antibiotics are life-saving medications that we rely on to prevent and treat many infections caused by bacteria. But when bacteria are exposed to antibiotics, they adapt and develop characteristics that allow them to fend off or disable antibiotics. Greater exposure to antibiotics accelerates these changes when bacteria develop the ability to survive exposure to antibiotics designed to kill them or stop their growth such bacteria are not killed and will continue to multiply. Resistant bacteria are difficult, and sometimes impossible to treat. Examples include Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE), Extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL) producing bacteria, Penicillin-resistant Enterococcus, and Multidrug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MDR-TB),
Throughout the world, generally, a growing number of infections are not responding to antibiotics. Tuberculosis, gonorrhea, and urinary tract infections are becoming harder, and sometimes impossible, to treat. In some countries, experts estimated huge thousands of illnesses per year result from resistant bacteria. Without effective antibiotics, other treatments will also become risky. Patients requiring surgery and chemotherapy will be poorly protected from the risks of life-threatening infections.
Image Source: THL
Six major causes of antibiotics resistance:
- Over-prescription of antibiotics
- Patients not finishing the entire antibiotic course
- Overuse of antibiotics in livestock and fish farming
- Poor infection control in health care settings
- Poor hygiene and sanitation
- Absence of new antibiotics being discovered
Global Antibiotic resistance implication
The consequences of Antibiotic resistance is highly problematic because of its severity
- Leads to higher medical costs
- Prolonged hospital stays
- Increased mortality.
What you can do! Everyone can take some simple actions
One of the best ways to combat antibiotic resistance is to ask questions: will an antibiotic help? Patients, talk to your prescriber. Practitioners, consult guidelines and experts in optimal prescribing.
Do’s and Dont’s of Antibiotics
- Do not use antibiotics to treat viral infections, such as influenza, the common cold, a runny nose or a sore throat. Ask your doctor for other ways to feel better.
- Use antibiotics only when a doctor prescribes them.
- When you are prescribed antibiotics, take the full prescription even if you are feeling better. Ensure that members of your family do the same.
- Never share antibiotics with others or use leftover prescriptions.
- Remember, each time you take an antibiotic when it is not necessary, the effectiveness of the antibiotic decreases and it might not work the next time you really need it.
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Antibiotics and antibiotic resistance