Antibiotic misuse boosting resistance

You have acquired your third ear infection this year, and your family doctor is going to prescribe another antibiotic.

He prescribes the same antibiotic that you had previously been given. After a week, the symptoms persist, and you are not progressing. You ask, “What could be preventing my ear infection from healing?”

The answer? Antibiotic resistance.

Antibiotic resistance is among the world’s major public health issues. Typically, antibiotics are prescribed by physicians to treat bacterial infections and diseases. Bacteria, single-celled microorganisms, can change and adapt to their environments for survival.

As with your third ear infection, “over time, harmful bacteria adapt and mutate to thrive in the presence of the medications designed to kill them, despite the introduction of new antibiotics,” as Patricia Emanuele wrote in a 2010 American Association of Occupational Health Nurses Journal article.

Because of the ability to quickly adapt, antibiotic-resistant bacteria are becoming more prevalent meaning that treatments for common infections are becoming less effective or not working at all. The main cause for this issue is due to the misuse and overuse of antibiotics.

The most persistent misuse and overuse of antibiotics is for prophylaxis; patients often demand for an antibiotic prescription when they are not needed. “Although antibiotic resistance cannot be prevented, it can be controlled,” Emanuele wrote.

Some ways to slow down the growth rate of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is through improved prescription protocols for antibiotics and education for the consequences of over prescription.

By improving the protocols for prescribing antibiotics, physicians will no longer be able to satisfy their patients’ desires for antibiotics when they are unneeded. Beyond improved protocols, educating the general public about the dangers of antibiotic resistance will provide those with an understanding as to why antibiotic overuse is detrimental.

Antibiotic resistance is dangerous today and must be controlled. If not, the public will experience many medical adversities to come.

Sierra Wilkie

Hollidaysburg

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