In the presence of a bacterial infection, your doctor will likely prescribe you an antibiotic medication to be taken over a course of several days. But as the signs of infection wear off, many of those who take these medications will cease the intake halfway through treatment under the assumption that the infection has been completely resolved. Unfortunately, this behaviour is also what’s causing the biggest threat to health and safety on a global scale. Although it also happens naturally, antibiotic resistance is being rapidly exacerbated by the misuse of antibiotic medication. And in learning more about this issue you may reduce the complications and mortality that it might cause.
What is Antibiotic Resistance?
Antibiotic resistance refers to the evolution of certain types of bacteria that allows them to resist the effects of antibiotic medications. Doctors prescribe antibiotics in order to resolve a bacterial infection, and patients will often be instructed to take the medication over an extended period of time regardless of whether the symptoms have subsided. The reason for this is because bacterial colonies do not completely die out after the first few doses of a medication. They die out gradually, reducing the size of the colony with each new intake. As this happens, an individual will likely feel much better, with most of the symptoms of infection subsiding due to the decreased bacterial population. But ceasing the use of the drug early can cause the remaining bacteria to adapt to its effects, learning how it works and developing the qualities needed to resist its impact. In effect, the bacteria become resistant.
Why is Antibiotic Resistance a Global Threat?
Whenever an individual allows bacteria to evolve and adapt to antibiotics, they introduce a stronger strain of bacteria to the general population. When this new strain manages to infect more people, it will be far harder to treat since it will no longer respond to forms of antibiotics that are typically used. Pharmacists are working round the clock to develop new antibiotic medications to combat infections that result from evolved strains of bacteria. However, even new medications will have limits especially if those who use them fail to complete the treatment period and allow bacteria to adapt to newer forms of antibiotics as well. [book_appointment]
How Can Antibiotic Resistance Be Prevented?
The first and most obvious step towards the prevention of antibiotic resistance would be to strictly observe your doctor’s instructions when it comes to the use of antibiotic medications. Ensure that you complete the treatment duration even if the symptoms of infection have subsided. This helps ensure that the medication has completely cleared out all the existing bacteria so that none can evolve and adapt to the medication your introduced. Secondly, it also helps to reduce the chances of bacterial infection. With better barriers against the transmission of these types of infections, evolved bacteria will not be able to thrive in the absence of a host. Practicing proper hygiene and sanitation should reduce the risk of transmitting evolved bacteria, and thus minimizing the possibility of passing it on to another individual within your community. Lastly, only take antibiotics when necessary. Viral infections such as the common cold and flu cannot be treated with antibiotics. Before taking antibiotics you must be diagnosed by a medical professional with a bacterial infection.
Antibiotic resistance is a threat that all of us as a population are responsible for. That said, each one has the moral obligation to prevent the problem and reduce the risk so that the global population can be spared from the dangers of an ever-evolving and adapting infection that may impact the lives of millions. Book an appointment with a PlushCare doctor today to know more about antibiotic resistance and what you can do to minimize the risk and fulfill your role in protecting worldwide health.
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World Health Organization. Antibiotic Resistance. Accessed on August 12, 2019 at https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/antibiotic-resistance
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Antibiotic Resistance Questions and Answers. Accessed on August 12, 2019 at https://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/community/about/antibiotic-resistance-faqs.html
Medline Plus. Antibiotic Resistance. Accessed on August 12, 2019 at https://medlineplus.gov/antibioticresistance.html