All what you need to know about anti-biotics(part 1)

For a long time, we have enjoyed the benefits of getting cures to infections after swallowing a few pills known as 'antibiotics'...


For a long time, we have enjoyed the benefits of getting cures to infections after swallowing a few pills known as 'antibiotics'. However, something worse than the infections is now on the rise...Antibiotic resistance! How did we get here?

What are antibiotics? 
Antibiotics, also known as antimicrobial drugs, are medicines that can kill or stop the growth of bacteria to cure infections in people, animals and sometimes plants. Antibiotics are medicines for bacterial infections (such as pneumococcal pneumonia or staphylococcal bloodstream infections); antimicrobial drugs that are effective against viruses are usually called antiviral drugs (such as those for influenza, HIV and herpes). Not all antibiotics are active against all bacteria. There are more than 15 different classes of antibiotics that differ in their chemical structure and their action against bacteria. An antibiotic may be effective against only one or multiple types of bacteria. 

What is antibiotic resistance? 
Bacteria have antibiotic resistance when specific antibiotics have lost their ability to kill or stop the growth of the bacteria. Some bacteria are naturally resistant to certain antibiotics (intrinsic or inherent resistance). A more worrying problem is when some bacteria, that are normally susceptible to antibiotics, become resistant as a result of genetic changes (acquired resistance). Resistant bacteria survive in the presence of the antibiotic and continue to multiply causing longer illness or even death. Infections caused by resistant bacteria may require more care as well as alternative and more expensive antibiotics, which may have more severe side effects.

Causes of antibiotic resistance
What is the most important cause of antibiotic resistance? 
Antibiotic resistance is a natural occurrence caused by mutations in bacteria’s genes. However, excessive and inappropriate use of antibiotics accelerates the emergence and spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. When exposed to antibiotics, susceptible bacteria are killed and resistant bacteria can continue to grow and multiply. These resistant bacteria may spread and cause infections in other people who have not taken any antibiotics.

What is “inappropriate” use of antibiotics? 

-When you use antibiotics for the wrong reason: most colds and flu are caused by viruses against which antibiotics are NOT effective. In such cases, you won’t improve your condition by taking antibiotics: antibiotics don’t lower fever or symptoms like sneezing.
-When you use antibiotics incorrectly: if you shorten the duration of treatment, lower the doses, don’t comply with the right frequency (taking the drug once a day instead of 2 or 3 times a day as directed), you won’t have enough drug in your body and the bacteria will survive and may become resistant.
Always follow your doctor’s advice on when and how to use antibiotics.
Which diseases are caused by resistant bacteria? 
Multidrug-resistant bacteria can cause a wide range of infections: urinary tract infection, chest infection,skin infection, diarrhoea, bloodstream infection. The location of the infection depends on the bacteria and the patient’s condition.
Patients in hospitals are at risk for infections unrelated to the reason for admission.
The problem of antibiotic resistance 

Why is antibiotic resistance a problem? 
Treating infections due to resistant bacteria is a challenge: antibiotics commonly used are no longer effective and doctors have to choose other antibiotics. This may delay getting the right treatment to patients and may result in complications, including death. Also, a patient may need more care as well as alternative and more expensive antibiotics, which may have more severe side effects.

How serious is the problem? 
The situation is getting worse with the emergence of new bacterial strains resistant to several antibiotics at the same time (known as multidrug-resistant bacteria). Such bacteria may eventually become resistant to all existing antibiotics. Without antibiotics, we could return to the “pre-antibiotic era”, when organ transplants, cancer chemotherapy, intensive care and other medical procedures would no longer be possible. Bacterial diseases would spread and could no longer be treated, causing death.



Stay tuned... Part 2, coming soon!

Written by Christie Linonge

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