Antibiotic resistant bacteria (and other germs) are those that have evolved to resist the effects of antibiotics. This is considered one of the world’s most pressing public health problems. Almost every type of pathogenic (disease causing) bacteria has become more resistant to antibiotics to some degree. This is due largely to antibiotic abuse. Before antibiotics the bacterial infection Streptococcus pyogenes was responsible for more than 50% of post-birth deaths in infants. The bacterial infection Staphylococcus aureus killed 80% of people who had infected wounds. (Australian Broadcasting Corporation , 1999). These are bugs that are still common in our everyday lives. People were dropping like flies from fairly common diseases back in those days (before antibiotics) such as bacterial pneumonia (40% of those infected died back then compared to now about 5 to 10% of cases are fatal). (Frame, 2003). If we don’t get a grip on this problem, it will be like that again.
Antimicrobial hand soaps and sanitizers are like antibiotics for the skin. And just like antibiotics, overuse of them are helping to produce antibiotic resistant bacteria. The health care community is trying to raise awareness, because this abuse of antibiotics is creating super bugs on a daily basis and in a decade or two we won’t have medication that save us from common sicknesses. Before antibiotics, people who got sick just died half the time. And that’s what going to happen again. Our babies and Grandbabies are in great danger. Spread the word!
WHAT CAN WE DO AS INDIVIDUALS?
1.Stop pressuring the doctor for antibiotics Discuss other relief options to see if they may be beneficial to you instead. It is hard to not pressure a physician for antibiotics when we live in such a fast paced world. Who has the time to be sick? We need to think about the consequences and do it for our future and our kid’s future. This is a problem that will be affecting us in our lifetime, it’s happening rapidly.
Before I was aware of the antibiotic abuse problem in this country, I ran to my son’s pediatrician for every little sniffle that he had and practically begged for an antibiotic. As a new mom I couldn’t bear the thought of my little man being sick. Now I know that I’m doing him a disservice by hindering his little immune system from developing and aiding in the breeding of antibiotic resistant bacteria. This should not stop us from taking out children to the doctor when they get sick. Parents should ask the doctor about the severity of the illness and if he/she recommends and antibiotic or not. Ask about measures that can be taken to help make the child comfortable while he/she fights off the illness without antibiotics if that’s what the doctor recommends.
2. Finish Antibiotics as Prescribed Many physicians and health care professionals’ nowa’days explain to their patients the importance of taking antibiotics as prescribed and finishing them. But some still don’t. I was never informed of this issue until about 4 years ago and then again in school. It is important that you don’t stop taking your antibiotic(s) as soon as you start feeling better. Chances are there are still bacteria remaining that will be killed off with the remainder of your medication. If medication is stopped as soon as symptoms go away the remaining bacteria will not only survive, they will grow resistance to the antibiotic.
3. Spread the knowledge Take it upon yourself to educate our friends and families on this issue and tell them to spread the word.
4. Protect yourselves Practicing good hygiene and habits such as washing your hands after going to the store or going to a restaurant etc, will help to prevent the spread of disease; Thus minimizing the chances of needing a medication in the first place.
5. Don’t save antibiotics Antibiotics should not be saved and taken the next time you’re sick. I know people who’ve done this (including me before I knew better). If you have a viral infection, such as a cold or flu, the antibiotic won’t even work; but you will still be allowing the bacteria in your body to grow resistance to the antibiotic if you take it.
6. Never take someone else’s antibiotics Even if you both have a bacterial infection, their antibiotic may not be appropriate for ailment.
(Antibiotic Resistance Questions & Answers, 2009).
Antibiotic Resistance Questions & Answers . (2009, June 30). Retrieved Dec. 2, 2010, from CDC.gov: http://www.cdc.gov/getsmart/antibiotic-use/anitbiotic-resistance-faqs.html
Australian Broadcasting Corporation . (1999). Antibiotics 1928-2000. Retrieved Dec. 2, 2010, from ABC.net: http://www.abc.net.au/science/slab/antibiotics/history.htm
Frame, M. P. (2003, April 8). Infectious Diseases- Before Antibiotics? Retrieved Dec. 2, 2010, from NetWellness.org: http://www.netwellness.org/question.cfm/26359.htm