ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE : A GLOBAL PROBLEM

What if the medicines you are taking to treat your infection stop working? Then your infection will keep on spreading and eventually cause death. This is possible in the modern world. This is due to the fact that there are some bacteria that are resistant to the usual antibiotics designed to kill them. This property in bacteria is known as resistance, and such bacteria are known as superbugs.

So, Bacteria, these are the oldest living things on the planet and masters of survival. Most bacteria are not harmful, some are even present as commensals in our body, and while some others invade your body spread quickly, and cause serious diseases.

Before the antibiotics were developed, millions of people used to die as a result of bacterial infections. The development of antibiotics was a huge accomplishment in the field of medicine and the number of deaths due to bacterial infections decreased tremendously.

Ever since then antibiotics have been used extensively for severe as well as common infections and this seems to have now turned against us. How?
The process of evolution is making things more complicated. Over time and with more and more use of antibiotics a small minority of bacteria might get evolved to protect themselves from the antibiotics. This is usually caused due to random mutations. Therefore, these bacteria develop certain mechanisms or change their previous mechanisms and as result render the bacteria ineffective. The immunity in these bacteria also spread to other bacteria giving rise to a large population of resistant bacteria. So the treatment of the disease becomes extremely difficult and usually deadly. An example of such bacteria is Clostridium difficile which causes deadly diarrhea.

As for humans, the horrors of the pre antibiotic era have been forgotten. And now as we have antibiotics, we treat this powerful medicine as a commodity. This is a predisposing factor to antibiotic resistance. Antibiotics are prescribed too freely by the doctors and taken too carelessly by patients. Antibiotics should be the last resort drug not because your cold is annoying.

Taking antibiotics frequently even for mild ailments, not completing the course of antibiotics and ‘Over the Counter’ availability of these drugs has contributed to resistance over the years. Still we do not need to panic. New antibiotics develop as old ones become obsolete. Yet the future of antibiotics might be gloomy as more and more resistance is being developed if we keep on using these drugs irrationally.

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