Antibiotics are needed to treat many infections, but they are losing their effectiveness. Bacteria resist their influence by adapting and finding ways to survive after exposure to such drugs.
Fighting bacteria and medicine
Bacterial cells adapt very well – they can naturally become resistant to antibiotics over time, but we are making the situation worse due to overuse and misuse of our medicines. This is already a risky situation, and it will only get worse if we do not take urgent measures.
Here are 6 main reasons for antibiotic resistance. They are associated with factors such as:
- Excessive prescribing of antibiotics.
- A large number of patients who have not completed a full course of antibiotics.
- Excessive use of antibiotics in animal husbandry and fish farming.
- Poor infection control in medical institutions.
- Poor hygiene and sanitation.
The problem of discovering new antibiotics
The use of antibiotics has saved millions of lives, but their widespread use to treat any infection: serious, minor or even viral, has led to an increase in antibiotic resistance. Antibiotics target bacteria exclusively, but sometimes it is difficult to distinguish viral from bacterial infections without expensive tests.
Often, prescribing antibiotics proactively takes less time and is easier than taking precautions and prescribing only the right treatment.
Another problem with antibiotics is the inability to control their use by the patient. Doses of antibiotics are designed to destroy entire populations of pathogens. When antibiotics are not taken for the entire prescribed course, pathogenic bacteria can adapt to the presence of antibiotics in low doses and eventually form a population that is completely resistant to the antibiotic regardless of dosage.
The use of antibiotics is also not limited to humans. Every day antibiotics are used in the treatment of livestock and fish to prevent infections. Similar to overuse in humans, uncontrolled use of antibiotics creates a reservoir of bacteria that can become resistant, rendering the antibiotic useless.
As a result of cities becoming more densely populated, people are exposed to more pathogens all the time. Hospitals and clinics are receiving more and more patients with infections, and it is not always possible to contain the spread of the pathogen among the population. Detection, isolation or treatment of all infectious diseases is often not feasible, which leads to the addition of new pathogens to the local community. In combination with the lack of hygiene, medical institutions become an ideal environment for the reproduction of bacteria.
Finally, one of the last factors contributing to antibiotic resistance is the lack of new antibiotics being developed. After an unprecedented number of antibiotic discoveries over the past 40 years, the number of new antibiotics being discovered has fallen to an all-time low. Without new drugs to combat the ever-increasing number of cases of antibiotic resistance, society lacks options for treating infections.
Why is it dangerous to take antibiotics out of control
If we lose our antibiotics, it will be like going back in time, when infections that we now consider insignificant can become fatal. An infected cut can be life-threatening, and a disease like pneumonia will become a mass killer again.
Recently, not a single fundamentally new class of antibiotics has appeared on the shelves of pharmacies. Even if we find more drugs, simply replacing old antibiotics with new ones is not the best option, as they can also become ineffective.
When we discuss antibiotic resistance, we talk about a frightening future and try to take measures so that the problem does not get worse. But this does not mean that this is a problem only for future generations. An estimated 25,000 people already die every year in Europe due to antibiotic-resistant infections.
Chemotherapy is an important weapon in the fight against cancer, but did you know that this procedure destroys our white blood cells, which we need to fight infection? Without antibiotics, chemotherapy will become more dangerous.
That is why it is important to abandon the uncontrolled use of antibiotics now! If you think you need an antibiotic, consult with several doctors based on the results of the tests and in no case prescribe these drugs yourself.