Antimicrobial resistance and why you should care?

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Photo by Mr. T in DC

Thursday, April 7 was World Health Day and the focus for 2011 was on antimicrobial resistance, also called antibiotic resistance. In essence it is bacteria we are trying to kill that just don’t die! Instead, they adapt and that is why you should care…

Bacteria are adapting

Antibiotics are less effective and have been used for so long that the bacteria they were designed to kill have evolved. According to the CDC, “People infected with antimicrobial-resistant organisms are more likely to have longer, more expensive hospital stays, and may be more likely to die as a result of the infection.

 

Antibiotic resistance can cause significant danger and suffering for children and adults who have common infections, once easily treatable with antibiotics. Microbes can develop resistance to specific medicines. A common misconception is that a person’s body becomes resistant to specific drugs. However, it is microbes, not people, that become resistant to the drugs.”

Misuse and overuse

Do you expect your doctor to prescribe an antibiotic when you are sick?

Do you save some of your antibiotics for later?

If you answered yes to the above questions then that’s part of the problem.  Mayoclinic.com, CDC, WebMd all advise the same guidelines when it comes to antibiotics:

  1. Don’t beg, demand, or expect your Doctor to prescribe an antibiotic.  Antibiotics only treat bacterial infections.
  2. If you do have a prescription, take it exactly as prescribed.
  3. Finish your prescription, don’t stop because you feel better for a few days and save the rest for next time.

Antibiotic resistance is a concern for everyone.
The World Health Organization reported that approximately “440,000 new cases of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) emerge annually, causing at least 150,000 deaths.”

In addition to the guidelines, you can eat a healthy diet rich in antioxidants (vegetables) and exercise. Antioxidants and Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to boost the immune system. In addition, the March issue of Mayo Clinic Women’s HealthSource discovered a link between exercise and “…immune cells circulate more quickly through the body and are better at destroying viruses and bacteria.

So, let’s be proactive and keep these superbugs at bay!

 

Additional resources:
CDC – Diseases/Pathogens Associated with Antimicrobial Resistance
CDC – Get Smart for Healthcare

 

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Comments

  1. Hi Tabitha,

    Great article. It’s so important to get this message out to the mainstream public.

    • Thank you Mireya. It serves a good reminder since I think we all forgot at one point or tend to forget to finish those meds.

  2. This is a great article. The same thing works for ‘anti-bacterial’ soaps. All the things our grandmas told us about washing hands and eating right is spot on :)

    • Thank you Laurie. It definitely seems like everything is antibacterial lately. I remember a former work place installing gallon sized bottles of hand sanitizer at each desk and putting a spray machine outside every door! Talk about overkill… :)

  3. Very interesting and important article. The pharma/biotech industry is working to find new antibiotics, but it continues to get harder and harder and bacteria are becoming resistant much faster.

    What a lot of people dont think about is when you are taking a precription you feel better because you have killed a large portion of the bacteria, however if you do not finish out the prescription and kill the rest (even though you feel fine) that is when the bacteria that survived the starting doses can develop resistance.

    • Good point. It reminds me of a really great book that I read, Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World. His goal is to wipe out tuberculosis, especially in the poorest places in the world, and one of his biggest problems was that his patients wouldn’t keep on schedule with their medications and the tuberculosis would become resistant to the medication. Often this would be passed to their children and they would inherit the resistant strands of tuberculosis, making it harder and harder to cure.