Infections caused by bacteria which are resistant to antibiotics often result in prolonged illness and greater risk of death. This article provides information regarding such bacteria.
Antibiotics are drugs that fight infections that are caused by bacteria and other microbes. When bacteria resist the effects of an antibiotic, it is termed as antibiotic resistant bacteria. This scenario usually takes place when the bacteria change in a way that reduces or eliminates the effectiveness of drugs, chemicals, or other such agents that are designed to cure or prevent infections. This is when the microbes survive and continue to multiply causing more harm.
Causes of Resistance
The resistance to antibiotics occurs due to the genetic mutation of the bacterium. This can occur in two ways:
- Changes in the DNA of the bacterium: The genetic mutation may prevent the antibiotics from deactivating the proteins in the bacteria, which is their main functionality. It may also increase the production of these proteins, making it difficult for the drug to deactivate all of them. Also, the wall of the bacterium may become less permeable for the drug.
- Transfer of genes that are resistant to antibiotics: The resistant strains or genes develop naturally when microorganisms are exposed to antimicrobial drugs. These genes may be transferred from one bacterium to another. The excessive use of antimicrobial drugs promotes this natural phenomenon.
Cause of Concern
Today antimicrobial resistance is one of the world’s most important public health problems. This is because over the last decade, almost every kind of microorganism has become stronger and less responsive to antibiotic treatment. The community is thus threatened by the fact that this phenomenon can quickly spread to family members, schoolmates, and co-workers, giving rise to a new strain of infectious disease that is more difficult to cure as well as expensive to treat. These microbes can pose health risks for children and adults with common infections that could have been be cured by antibiotics previously.
Prevention of Infection
You can avoid antimicrobial resistant infections by following the steps listed below:
- Use antibiotics only when your doctor prescribes them for you.
- Avoid taking these drugs for a viral infection such as a cold or flu.
- Take the drugs according to the prescription provided. Do not skip doses. Also make sure to complete the prescribed course of treatment so that the infection does not recur.
- Avoid taking medications that have been prescribed for someone else as they may not be appropriate for your illness.
Healthcare providers can help prevent the spread of antimicrobial resistance. They may prescribe antibiotic therapy only when it is to be likely to be beneficial to the patient. Also, they may recommend using an agent that targets the pathogens that cause the illness.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.