Antibiotics: Are We Using Them Too Much?

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t’s a common misconception that antibiotics can cure anything and everything. From coughs and colds to STDs, many people believe they’re a cure for everything. According to many doctors, a lot of people request antibiotics to treat conditions that don’t need them. The problem with this is that although antibiotics can be used to clear these illnesses, they’re not needed. Our bodies are strong enough to fight off many illnesses themselves. It can just take a little bit of time; that’s all.

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For the past 70 years, antibiotics have been used to effectively fight many nasty infections. These are things that would have caused death prior to their creation. The only issue with this is that because antibiotics have been used on such a vast scale and for so long, many diseases have become immune to them. Meaning that the organisms that the antibiotics are designed to kill are no longer damaged by them.

For example, 15 years ago, if an STD test showed that you had chlamydia, antibiotics would be given, and that would be that. Today, however, that’s not always the case. Many infections aren’t cleared up with just one dose of antibiotics. This is a prime example of antibiotic resistance.

The fact is that antibiotics are one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in the world. Sometimes they are needed in order for the patient to recover. However, studies have shown that up to 50 percent of the time, they’re prescribed when not needed. Or if they are needed, the wrong dose or duration is given. This means that they’re not being used as they should do, which can aid resistance to them.

It’s not just antibiotics that are prescribed wrong that are aiding resistance; it’s also the fact that many types of meat contain them. Whenever a farm animal is unwell, often antibiotics are used to treat the problem. This means that salmonella and other bacteria found in meat get a lot of exposure to antibiotics. Because of this, they have started to adapt. That’s why many strains of salmonella have now become resistant to antibiotics.



If more conditions become resistant to antibiotics, we’ll be left back where we were 70 years ago. Chest infections, urinary tract infections, and many other common conditions will lead to deaths. That’s a frightening thought, isn’t it? The fact that the everyday illnesses that go around once or twice a year could cause thousands of deaths is deeply concerning.

However, the good news is that there are things we can do to prevent antibiotic resistance. Avoiding infections in the first place is one of the best options. As this means that antibiotics won’t need to be as widely used. This might sound easier said than done, but by washing your hands each time you use the toilet and before you eat, you can cut your risk of becoming ill in half.

Another way to prevent resistance would be changing the way that antibiotics are prescribed. As mentioned above, up to half of all use of these drugs is unnecessary. This means that if the amount of drugs prescribed were reduced, the speed that bacteria would become resistant to them would slow down. This would help to make the use of antibiotics safer when needed. It’s also important that as well as only prescribing antibiotics when needed, it’s crucial to get the doses right.

If something doesn’t change, we’ll have few treatments for the most common conditions.

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