Know About Antibiotic Resistance

Know About Antibiotic Resistance
Published : Feb 03, 2024
Last Updated : Feb 06, 2024

Antibiotics are powerful medications that help to treat mild to severe bacterial infections in people of all ages. These are among the most commonly used medications globally and life-saving drugs for those threatened by harmful bacteria. But what if these antimicrobial drugs fail to work against bacteria? Yes, it's about antibiotic resistance. 

Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to the global population today. It may affect anyone of any age or country, occurring naturally. But the main causes behind antibiotic resistance are misuse and overuse of these drugs. As a result, they may develop drug resistance to pathogens.

The infection spread with these bacterial stains, which got antibiotic resistance, is harder to treat. There are several infections, such as pneumonia, gonorrhea, tuberculosis and salmonellosis, that people commonly acquire. And, with antibiotic resistance, these conditions become harder to treat as the antibiotics used to treat them become less effective. Also, it leads to higher medical costs, longer hospital stays and increased mortality. 

Let's read more about antibiotic resistance and know its preventions and controls.

What is Antibiotic resistance?

Antibiotic resistance appears when bacteria and fungi, like germs, develop the ability to defeat the drugs made to kill them. It means these drugs do not kill harmful bacteria, and they keep growing. Bacteria that have gained antibiotic resistance are difficult to kill and sometimes impossible to treat infection caused by them.

Bacteria Resistance Mechanisms

For survival, bacteria may develop defense strategies against antibiotic medications. DNA tells these harmful germs to make specific proteins, and it determines the germ's resistance mechanisms. Thus, bacteria or fungi may carry genes for many types of resistance by updating themselves. As a result, these strains of bacteria got resistant antifungal or antimicrobial drugs and caused untreatable infections. 

The common defense strategies used by harmful germs like bacteria and fungi are-

  • Bacteria or fungi may restrict access to antibiotics. They may do it by changing the entryways or limiting the number of entryways so that antibiotics can't destroy them.
  • Germs may eliminate the effects of antibiotics by pumping them out of their cell walls. By doing it, they will remove the antibiotic drugs that enter the cell and prevent them from their attacks. 
  • Bacteria or fungi may change or destroy the antibiotics with the help of enzymes, proteins that may break down the drugs. 
  • Many antibiotic medications target specific parts of a bacterium to kill or destroy them. Thus, bacteria change the antibiotic's target so the drug no longer fits and cannot do its job. 
  • Germs may bypass the effects of antibiotics by developing new cell processes. It may avoid using the antibiotic's target and keep them self safe from the attack of antibiotic drugs. 

How Antibiotic resistance may affect you

Germs like Bacteria and fungi do not need to be resistant to every antibiotic to be dangerous. Resistance can even be gained from one antibiotic and can turn into a serious problem. For example-

Antibiotic-resistant infections may need second or third-line treatments for their treatment. It may cause harm to the patients by causing serious side effects on their bodies. These side effects may lead to organ failure, prolonging care and recovery for months. 

Many medical advances also depend on the ability to fight bacterial infections with antibiotics. While going under other treatments like joint replacements, organ transplants, cancer therapy, and other chronic diseases like asthma, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis may require their use. But the risk of antibiotic resistance may turn the condition more serious and add extra risk to health. 

In some cases, no treatment option remains due to antibiotic resistance. 

If antibiotic drugs lose effectiveness, we lose the ability to fight harmful bacterial infections. Also, we lose the ability to control these public health threats. 

Prevention and control of Antibiotic resistance

Antibiotic resistance takes place due to misuse and overuse of antibiotics drugs while treating a bacterial infection. Also, poor practice and infection prevention and control may lead to such a situation. These are some steps listed below that individuals may take to prevent and control the spread of antibiotic resistance. 

Use antibiotics only when prescribed by a certified healthcare professional or a doctor. 

Do not skip the doses or stop using antibiotics unless the infection is treated.

Always follow the prescription and instructions a healthcare professional provides, especially while taking antibiotics.

Never demand the use of antibiotics if your doctor says that you do not need them. Or do not start taking antibiotics on your own, and never take other antibiotics if you have the same symptoms that they had. So never share or use leftover antibiotics during an illness.

Prevent the risk of acquiring an infection-

  • Wash hands properly and maintain proper hygiene
  • Avoid close contact with sick people
  • Take care of food hygiene
  • Have safe sex
  • Keep yourself vaccinated up to date