Antibiotic resistance: Another immense challenge for our globe

DR RABIA HAIDER SHAIKH

In 1670s, Leeuwenhoek, a Dutch scientist, discovered tiny microorganism which he named ”bacteria”. At the time of their discovery, nobody intended that one day these tiny microorganisms would throw such a massive challenge for our globe. By the time of their discovery, up till now, some strains of bacteria have become much more stronger and resistant to many antibiotics. As scientists are inventing new antibiotics, bacteria are also assembling their army to fight back by gene mutation. Intentionally or unintentionally, we are feeding them to become resistant to antibiotics by misusing antibiotics. Misuse of hypnotics and sedatives is very common and majority of people are aware of it but awareness of antibiotic resistance and antibiotic misuse is uncommon.

In general, controlled drugs are not accessible over-the-counter because of their sedation property and physician’s prescription is mandatory but antibiotics don’t possess such property then why they are not accessible over-the counter? Let’s begin the awareness voyage of antibiotic misuse.

Antibiotics are medicines which are formulated to kill pathogenic bacteria as they evolve certain infections in our body. When pathogenic bacteria move into host body through the eyes, nose, mouth or wound they travel along the blood stream and begin to multiply and release toxic agents inside after which the host starts to feel its effect e.g. staphylococcus, e-coli, salmonella and many other bacterial species which induce nausea, vomiting, pyrexia and diarrhea. Promptly antibiotics are prescribed to fight bacterial infections, the host begins the antimicrobial (antibiotic) therapy and when it is orally taken following its absorption through the stomach lining it reaches the blood stream and targets the bacteria. Over the course of the antibiotics the dose becomes stronger and concentrated and host begins to feel they have recovered, so they stop-off the course of antibiotics. The termination of antibiotic course (misuse) gives the bacteria advantage of mutation by picking up the DNA from dead bacteria and the mutation in the bacterial gene gives rise to a resistant strain of bacteria. Now, this new strain of resistant bacteria with a new DNA moves along the blood streams to develop infection; eventually host begins to feel its effect and starts antibiotic therapy but this time antibiotic fails to kill bacteria, it will spread the infection to other parts of the body as well. The condition can turn out to be so severe that hospitalization can be needed for the administration of I/V drip of antibiotic, as it gives higher dose at higher rate so the host can recover from infection.

The consequences doesn’t come to an end here; there are more than 100 trillion pro-biotics (beneficial bacteria) within our body mostly in digestive system which assist in sustaining a good health. Owing to the fact when anti-biotics are overused they kill the probiotics (beneficial bacteria) along with pathogenic bacteria. Nowadays, maximum of the antibiotics are broad spectrum antibiotics so they kill all bacteria, also the beneficial ones. Thus it leads to GIT disorders most commonly diarrhea because many probiotics (beneficial bacteria) prevent us from GIT disorders. Probiotics play a key role in strengthening our immune system.

Another significant contributing factor in bacterial resistance is incorrect diagnoses. Antibiotics fight against infections caused by bacteria, however they are not effective against viral infections like common cold, sore throat and flu. Mostly viral infections are mistakenly treated as bacterial infections and antibiotics are prescribed. Consequently antibiotics fail to suppress the symptoms of viral infection and leads to the progression of antibiotic resistance. Up till now, many strains of bacteria have become resistant to antibiotics like quinolones, methicillin, peniciliine. Scientists are working on inventing new vaccines for infections. All the factors contributing to bacterial resistance is a result of antibiotics misuse and overuse. Accurate dose adjustments, accurate diagnosis, discarding leftover antibiotics, not taking antibiotics for longer time and completion of antibiotics course can bring great decrease in bacterial resistance against antibiotics.

In the United States, according to a 2013 report by The Centre of Disease Control and Prevention, at least 2 million people possess serious infection with bacteria that are resistant to one or more antibiotics designed to treat infections and approximately 23,000 people die of infections annually due to antibiotic resistance. Today, almost all bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics in the US and throughout the world. Antibiotics have been called the world’s most serious public health problem.

”Antibiotics are powerful drugs, but they are not cure for all that ails you”.

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