Antibiotic Resistance: Am I at Risk?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and nearly 23,000 people die as a result of these infections each year. Your first line of defense against these statistics is to educate yourself and learn more.
What is antibiotic resistance?
Antibiotic resistance is the bacteria’s ability to escape the effects of an antibiotic. Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change in a way that reduces the effectiveness of drugs designed to cure or prevent infections. This allows the bacteria to survive and continue to multiply, potentially causing more harm to patients. Although some people think a person becomes resistant to specific drugs, it is actually the bacteria in their body, not the person, that become resistant to the drugs.
Why should I care about antibiotic resistance?
Antibiotic resistance has been called one of the world's most pressing public health problems. Antibiotic resistance is capable of causing illnesses that were once easily treatable with antibiotics to become dangerous infections which may prolong suffering for children and adults. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria can spread to family members, co-workers and schoolmates, and may threaten your community. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are often more difficult to kill and more expensive to treat. In many cases, antibiotic-resistant infections can lead to serious disability or even death.
How do bacteria become resistant to antibiotics?
After being exposed to an antibiotic, some bacteria can survive because they find a way to resist the antibiotic. Even if only one bacterium becomes resistant to antibiotics, it can then multiply and replace all the bacteria that were killed off. Bacteria can also become resistant through mutation of their genetic material.
Why are bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics?
Overuse and misuse of antibiotics can promote the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Every time a person takes antibiotics, sensitive bacteria (bacteria that antibiotics can still attack) are killed, but antibiotic-resistant bacteria are left to grow and multiply. This is how repeated use of antibiotics can increase the number of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Antibiotics are not effective against viral infections like the common cold, flu, most sore throats, bronchitis, and many sinus and ear infections. Widespread use of antibiotics for these illnesses is an example of how overuse of antibiotics can promote the spread of antibiotic resistance. Smart use of antibiotics is the key to controlling the spread of resistance.
Stay tuned for more blog posts about antibiotic resistance, what you can do to prevent it, when to use antibiotics and when to avoid using them. Educating yourself is the first line of defense against antibiotic resistance. Get smart!