What becomes of us when antibiotics no longer work

Antibiotics are simply a class of antimicrobial drug which are used to treat and prevent infections caused by bacteria. What they do is to either kill or slow down the growth of bacteria. The advent of antibiotics has simply transformed the world of medicine especially in the 20th century. Many diseases have almost been eliminated because of their usage. However, we face a serious threat of having diseases with no effective drugs to combat them in the nearest future. Actually, we are right at the very doorstep of that era.

The development of resistant bacteria to antibiotics is really not a new thing. Resistance often develops due to processes of evolution that occur during antibiotic therapy. But then, in the recent years, antibiotic resistance has gradually become a major source of concern in medicine. A fresh report in Lancet Infectious Disease Journal has indicated the end of the antibiotic age. In the report, the antibiotic Colistin, which is usually used as the last line of defence against bacteria, was considered ineffective to fight certain bacteria discovered in animals and humans. In reality, we risk losing all of the medical advance we have made in the past. The implications are simply enormous. Consider these: treatments used for cancer like radiotherapy and chemotherapy would be too risky to use because they depend on antibiotics to ward off infections. Also, the transplant operations and normal surgical operations would be too risky to carry out and child birth mortality would go sky-high.

The reasons for antibiotic resistance is not far-fetched. In developed countries, farmers have overused antibiotics for their livestock in order to prevent and treat diseases and also to fatten them up. Also, you and I are contributing to this greatly. Amazingly, many people actually believe that humans develop resistance and not the bacteria. We also have a situation where people take antibiotics when not needed and also stop taking them without completing their dosage. All these are contributing factors aiding the increasing growth of bacteria resistance to antibiotics. Know this: the more you use antibiotics, especially improperly, the less effective they become overtime, and immediately any bacteria emerges as resistant it can take years for the antibiotic to become useful again.

In the light of all this, I would implore you to always complete your dosage whenever you are using antibiotics. Also, antibiotics do not cure viral infections like colds and the flu. These infections are self-limiting; they will be resolved without treatment. Don’t self-prescribe antibiotics please.

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