First developed in 1928, antibiotics have played a critical role in human health. Unfortunately, many of these drugs are now losing their effectiveness due to overuse and misuse. Before you take unprescribed medication to treat an illness, learn the negative effects of antibiotics.
The Rise of Super Bugs
It’s difficult to overstate the positive impact antibiotics have had in the field of medicine. By killing harmful bacteria, these essential medications have saved millions of lives once at risk to a variety of deadly diseases.
These days, antibiotics are used to treat everything from STDs and respiratory infections to parasites and strep throat. Unfortunately, modern bacteria are beginning to develop resistances to antibiotic medications, resulting in so-called super bugs which are very difficult to treat.
Why it’s Happening
A bacterium becomes resistant to medication when it developed genetic changes that either protect the organism or neutralize the drug. If even one of these bacteria is able to survive a round of antibiotics, it can then reproduce and pass on its drug-resistant traits.
While some amount of drug resistance is to be expected, the following types of misuse have exacerbated the problem:
- Some physicians prescribe antibiotics for viral infections, which do not respond to these types of medications.
- Some doctors provide antibiotics before waiting for test results.
- Some people take antibiotics left over from a previous prescription.
- Some people order antibiotics from sources abroad.
- Never take antibiotics without a prescription.
- Always follow your doctor’s instructions and take all of your prescribed antibiotics even if you feel well.
As drug resistance increases, doctors are seeing more and more super bugs that threaten human life. From MRSA and CRE to antibiotic-resistant STDs and pneumonia, a rising tide of super bugs appears to be emerging, while the pool of effective treatments continues to run dry.
What You Can Do
Doctors and patients all play key roles in preventing antibiotic overuse and misuse. From a patient’s perspective, it’s important to adhere to the following guidelines:
Remember that antibiotics have no effect on viral infections, meaning they will not help with the flu, bronchitis, viral gastroenteritis, many types of ear infections and most coughs. If you have an infection that lasts longer than seven to ten days, however, it may point toward a bacterial infection that requires antibiotic treatment.