Antibiotics are medications used to prevent and treat bacterial infections. They work by either killing the bacteria or slowing and suspending its growth. But in recent times, people have been wary about the effects of its frequent use. Antibiotic resistance is rising to dangerously high levels in all parts of the world.
Does it sound familiar?
It should as you may have probably been prescribed one when you had a bacterial infection. Several classes of antibiotics are available, but only a few are known to most as they are the more commonly used ones to treat the usual bacterial infections. To name a few of these antibiotic classes: penicillin (Amoxicillin, Amoxicillin + Clavulanic acid, Penicillin G, Ampicillin), cephalosporin (Cefuroxime, Cefixime, Cephalexin), and macrolide (Azithromycin, Clarithromycin, Erythromycin).
But before all of this, one should answer the question of why.
Why are Antibiotics important?
As stated above, antibiotics help fight off bacteria invading the body. Its use aids the body’s immune defense system in warding against bacterial infections and preventing the infection from progressing to a more serious one.
Typically, the immune system is the first line of defense against infections. The white blood cell, primarily being the main unit of defense that attacks bacteria, viruses, and other invading agents. However, bacteria can multiply quickly, leaving the immune system unable to clear them all. Antibiotics are helpful in scenarios like this.
The Danger of Antibiotic Resistance
Antibiotics in the Philippines are not over-the-counter, hence the need for a prescription before being able to buy one. But unfortunately, this is not strictly implemented, especially by small pharmacies.
The frequent misuse and overuse of antibiotics have accelerated the development of antibiotic resistance. This has now become one of the biggest threats to global health.
Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change so that antibiotic medicines cannot kill them or stop their growth. As a result, bacterial infections would become extremely difficult to treat. This leads to an increased risk of severe and extended illness, longer hospital stays higher medical costs, and increased mortality.
What Causes Antibiotic Resistance?
There are several factors contributing to antibiotic resistance, but the major culprits are the overuse and misuse of antibiotics. Another cause of antibiotic resistance is spontaneous resistance. It occurs when the genetic makeup of a bacterium changes or mutates on its own. The change in the bacterium either makes it unrecognizable from the antibiotic or helps the bacterium fight off the medicine’s effect.
How do you prevent Antibiotic Resistance?
Addressing the issue of antimicrobial resistance should be a joint effort by laypeople, doctors and other health professionals, policymakers, and the entire healthcare industry.
Individuals, for their part, should only use antibiotics prescribed by certified health professionals. One should not demand antibiotics if the doctor did not recommend any. It is important to keep in mind that antibiotics are meant for bacterial infections only. It will not have any effect on viral or fungal infections.
As for doctors and other health professionals, antibiotics should be prescribed when they are indicated according to current guidelines. Patients should be educated regarding the proper intake of the medication and the possible dangers when it is misused.
For the healthcare industry and policymakers, a robust national action plan should be created to address and tackle the problem of antibiotic resistance. Policies should be in place to regulate the use and dispensing of antibiotics. Infection control prevention and control measures programs should be implemented and strengthened as well. Continued research and development of new antibiotics should be invested in too.
It always pays to be informed.
You may think self-medication will save you money, but in the long run, it may cause severe side effects and will cost you more in your body, and your savings.
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