Antibiotics are medicines that kill or inhibit the growth of certain bacteria that cause infections in humans and animals. Antibiotics only work on specific bacteria and do not improve the symptoms of viral infection. Antibiotics save us from various life-threatening bacterial infections. But, they also cause side effects and develop antibiotic resistance, which becomes a concerning health threat. Therefore, use antibiotics when necessary or only prescribed by a physician. Antibiotics are not always the best option when you are sick. A person does not always need antibiotics, as some infections are due to viral, fungal, or other pathogens.
Misuse or overuse of antibiotics in humans and animals can cause antibiotic resistance, which affects their ability to prevent and treat a bacterial infection, lengthen the recovery time, and increase the death rate.
What is antibiotic resistance?
Many people do not show signs of improvement, even after the proper antibiotic treatment, due to antibiotic or antimicrobial resistance.
Misuse of antibiotics can cause antibiotic resistance. Bacteria become antibiotic-resistant when they develop the ability to survive antibiotic exposure that supposes to kill or stop them. The antibiotic-resistant bacteria grow and cause infection within the host even if the person is receiving antibiotic treatment.
How does antibiotic resistance develop?
Antibiotic resistance can give rise to a serious issue, leading to more difficult-to-treat conditions. Antibiotic resistance has become one of the prime causes of morbidity and mortality globally. The main reason for antibiotic resistance development is unnecessary antibiotic usage.
Understanding the antibiotic resistance mechanism can help prevent bacteria from developing resistance to new antibacterial treatments in the future.
When bacteria enter our body and cause infection, antibiotics help kill or stop the growth of these bacteria. But some of the infection-causing bacteria succeed in protecting themselves by a change in their structure and become resistant to these antibiotics, leading to antibiotic resistance development. Antibiotics are becoming less effective as more and more bacteria become resistant to them. Bacteria thwart antibiotic efforts in numerous ways, such as:
- Bacteria develop natural resistance due to their impermeable cell membrane or the absence of the target to work by antibiotics.
- Genetic mutation in the bacterial DNA can modify the antibiotic’s target.
- Bacteria acquire antibiotic-resistant genes from other bacterial species through the horizontal gene transfer method.
- Bacteria may synthesize efflux pumps and carry antibiotics out of their cells before antibiotics show any effect.
- Bacteria produce some enzymes that deactivate introduced antibiotics.
What are the causes of antibiotic resistance?
After introducing antibiotics into our system to treat a bacterial infection, some bacteria survive and become resistant, which might happen in various ways, such as:
- Overuse of prescribed antibiotics
- A person did not finish their complete course of antibiotic treatment
- Inability to detect appropriate antibiotics for particular bacteria
- Poor sanitation and infection control in hospitals
- Lack of hygiene
- Poor immunity
How to prevent the development of antibiotic resistance?
Global public health is at risk from antibiotic resistance due to its severity, and everyone has a role in preventing its development. According to World Health Organisation (WHO), everyone plays a crucial part in the prevention of antibiotic resistance development:
- Individual level steps
- Do not take antibiotics for a viral infection, such as a cold or flu.
- Do not use antibiotics every time you fall ill.
- Only use antibiotics when a healthcare professional advises them.
- Take a complete course of antibiotics, and do not skip any dosage.
- Do not use someone else prescription because of similar symptoms.
- Never save the antibiotics for next time.
- Use preventive measures to protect against infection, such as regular hand washing, maintaining hygiene, maintaining distance from sick people, staying vaccinated, and having safe sex.
- Healthcare provider’s level steps
- Only prescribe antibiotics after microorganism detection.
- Properly instruct patients about how to take them and the danger of misuse.
- Practice good hygiene to prevent the spread of the infection.
- Report antibiotic-resistant infections.
- Reduce the use of antibiotics in livestock.
- Medicine industrial-level steps
- Continuous research for new antibiotics, vaccines, and other preventive tools production to overpower antibiotic resistance.
- Regulate and promote the appropriate use of antibiotics.
- Regulate the medicine disposal policies
Today, antibiotic resistance is one of the emerging health concerns in the world. People use antibiotic course even for minor infections that can resolve by themselves within a few days or rarely finish prescribed antibiotic course since their symptoms improve quickly, which cause antibiotic resistance development in particular bacteria. Therefore, ensure that you use antibiotics only under the guidance of your healthcare provider instruction.