Antibiotics have been found to be crucial since the past 60 years in fighting against many infectious diseases that were caused by microbes and bacteria. However, then rose a phenomenon called antibiotic resistance, a condition wherein a microorganism is able to resist effects of an antibiotic. The infections or health problems that were earlier easily treated by antibiotic drug therapy were now not that easy to treat. For example, wound infections, tuberculosis, gonorrhea, pneumonia, childhood ear infections and septicemia, are some of the diseases which have become difficult to treat with antibiotics.
Antibiotic resistance essentially develops owing to natural selection. To state it in simple terms, when an antibiotic slows down the growth or kills bacteria by the way of natural selection, bacteria develops behavior that helps in reproduction and survival. For example, if you take an antibiotic, there is a possibility that a few bacteria will withstand the antibiotic better. This through a mechanism can be passed on to the group of bacteria and the process to withstand can ultimately result in complete resistance against a particular antibiotic. If some bacteria is resistant to several antibiotics it is commonly referred to as a “superbug”. Staphylococcus aureus was the first microbe that battled penicillin, which is the first antibiotic.
Drug resistance and infection — Overview:
There are several reasons that lead to increased rate of drug resistance. First and foremost would be exposure to a particular antibiotic for a longer duration of time. Other reasons include overuse of antibiotic, inappropriate treatment, failure to complete the prescribed course, misuse of antibiotics for example taking medicines to treat common colds that give undue exposure of the drug to the bacteria thereby facilitating antibiotic resistance.
Seeping complacency made drug companies stop their work on new agents. Resistance to a number of commonly used drugs kept on increasing and there came a point in 1990s when there were no agents available for certain infections. In today’s time, antibiotic resistance has become the biggest public health problem. In the last ten years, almost all bacteria are seen to have become stronger, showing less responsiveness to antibiotic treatment. This is a threat to the society as there would be a rise to new infectious diseases that are difficult to cure and are also expensive to treat at the same time.
How to avoid antibiotic resistant infection?
Following the below steps would help you avoid developing antibiotic resistant infection.
- Do not use antibiotics frequently; you should use them only under the guidance of a licensed medical practitioner.
- Refrain from taking antibiotics for treating viral infections like cold or flu.
- Do not store antibiotics for use during the next time you contract the same illness. It is suggested to get rid of the remaining drugs after you are done with your prescribed antibiotics course.
- Strictly follow your antibiotics directions given by doctor. Ensure that you do not skip the doses. It is important to continue the course even if your feel better, this may ensure that you do not get re-infected by the bacteria again.
- Do not take antibiotics prescribed to your friend or family member to treat your disease. Even if both of you are suffering from the same illness, the same antibiotics course will not prove to be effective for each individual.
- Never force your doctor to prescribe an antibiotic with an aim to get rid of the illness fast. If your doctor confirms that you are not affected by a bacterial infection, learn for ways to relieve your symptoms without antibiotics.