Recently it was discovered that 33% of the people who were diagnosed with some form of bacterial infection are resistant to antibiotics (the medicines used to kill bacteria). Doctors are reporting about new superbugs (bacteria immune to antibiotics) that are becoming a health scare.
This has given rise to the need for the Antibiotic Resistance Week (18th-24th November 2019). Wherein, healthcare experts actively try to educate the people on the causes and dangers of antibiotic resistance. Read on to know all about it.
What are the causes of antibiotic resistance?
Here are the primary causes of why bacteria are becoming resistant-
- You are not completing the dose
When your doctor prescribes antibiotics for a particular duration, he/she calculates how long it would take to eliminate ALL the harmful bacteria causing the illness. Now, if you discontinue the meds just because the symptoms have disappeared, some bacteria with the knowledge of how the antibiotic works, will be left behind in the body. Now they will evolve accordingly and become resistant to that particular antibiotic.
- Consuming antibiotics through food
It’s not just you who is given antibiotics. The livestock, animals, or fish that humans consume are treated with antibiotics too. When you consume meat or eggs, these antibiotics will accumulate in your body and new versions of resistant bacteria are created.
- Not many new antibiotics
Most of the antibiotics that you see today were invented more than 40 years ago. Since then newer strains of bacteria have come into existence, their population has spread and human resistance has weakened to render the old antibiotics useless.
- Over-prescription of medicines
Many doctors prescribe antibiotics for minor illnesses, which gives bacteria more time, and information they need to change their DNA to become more resistant.
Dangers of antibiotic resistance
The real danger of antibiotic resistance lies in the fact that these medicines lose their power. Antibiotics are prescribed for a number of illnesses- from stomach infections to pneumonia, bronchitis and a number of ugly infections. They are used during and after surgeries. If antibiotics do not work, these illnesses can turn fatal.
What can we do about antibiotic resistance?
You can reduce the risk of antibiotic resistance with these measures-
- To start off, we need to ask our healthcare providers whether we really need antibiotics as part of the treatment. If it’s a viral infection or something milder, then there are other medicines that will take care of the problem.
- Always complete the course of the medication.
- Never exceed the course of antibiotics prescribed.
- Do not self diagnose. It is dangerous to pop antibiotics if they haven’t been prescribed by your doctor as they can empower dangerous bacteria.
- Do not take antibiotics that were prescribed for your friend or family member even if it’s for the same illness.
- Do not take the same antibiotics if the infection comes back again.
Antibiotic Resistance Week is a good time to become aware of the rising danger of bacteria becoming too powerful for antibiotics to kill. To stay healthy, ensure that you exercise caution when it comes to taking antibiotics.