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Antibiotic Resistance – What are We Doing about this Rapidly Emerging Threat?

Submitted by on November 16, 2014 – 8:35 PM

illustration-[Converted]Antibiotics are the class of drug that are used to treat several bacterial infections. They take advantage of the difference between the bacterial and human cellular structure and composition to work against the bacterial growth and destruction and causes either killing of entire structure or as bacteriostatics.


They are never a drug of choice for viral infections such as flu, cold or throat infections but are generally given to the patients. It is the responsibility of physician to be sensible enough while  prescribing the antibiotics to the patient and considering the bio burden while suggesting the dose. Antibiotic resistance has now become a dilemma. And the resistance to any class of antibiotics means a more potent antibiotic for the next time which concurrently means greater side effects and lesser choice of drugs for the treatment.


Basically antibiotic resistance is described as the ability of bacteria to withstand the antimicrobial power of that particular antibiotic as a result the bacteria becomes resilient and resistant to that antibiotic and the drug will no longer work for that specific bacteria. The mechanism of this resistance depends on the type of bacterias ; most of the times this resistance occurs due to the permeability of the cell membrane in the resistant bacteria that does not allow the penetration of the antibiotic into the bacterial cell results in survival of bacteria even after completion of drug course.


The demand of the potent and new antibiotic occurs now. Since the resistant strains of bacteria are capable of causing multiple and serious infections and can multiply and spread more evenly than the previous ones. Today, the health practitioners as well as the patients are using the antibiotics improperly. One of the major causes for resistance is the lack of patient’s knowledge about the  use including the administration or dose timings and risk-benefit ratio of the medicine.


It is necessary for the patients to follow the proper dose and regimen of the antibiotic being prescribed and discard the leftover medicine. The resistant manifest if the regimen is not completed. Self-use (self-medication) of previously saved antibiotics without knowing the infection also cause resistance and affects the normal flora of the body, disrupting the balance between beneficial and harmful bacteria. Most of the respiratory pathogens have now become resistant due to the use of antibiotics in viral infections of the upper respiratory tract such as sore throat, cold, cough, flu, bronchitis etc.


On the other hand,  it is also the responsibility of the health care provider to prescribe the antibiotic only and if necessary otherwise use the alternate and less potent drugs for the treatment of infectious disease. The use of broad spectrum antibiotics for empiric therapy is also one of the reasons for therapeutic failure. Use of narrow spectrum antibiotic is always recommended. Once the bacteria become resistant to broad spectrum, the narrow spectrum will no longer be beneficial in any way to the patient. This should be considered in case of some life threatening disease such as that of cystic fibrosis where we have lesser choice of drugs for treatment.


Due to this excessive and misuse of antibiotics the bacteria have now mutated their self and have become resistant to amoxicillin. Most resistant strains of bacteria appear to be a result of overuse of third-generation cephalosporins too. With the increase in number of resistant strains, antibiotic resistance has become a global threat; it is therefore needed to seriously work on this issue.


The rate of this resistance can be controlled if the patients follow the regimen as prescribed, which means completing the course of medicine even if the infection is cured. Completing the regimen is necessary because the bacteria may become dormant for that time and gets active later. These bacteria become resistant to that antibiotic.


Resistance can be controlled by avoiding the use of antibiotics that are prescribed for someone else. Also, the patients should not share their drugs with other patient be it of the same infection or other. It’s necessary to council the patients to avoid taking medicines specially the antibiotics in viral illness. These viral infections are usually self-limiting and subside without medications.


FDA (Food and Drug Association) and CDA (Center for Disease Control) are already working to regulate further reports of resistant strains. But nothing can be done to the strains that have already become resistant. It is therefore acclaimed to always be sure while prescribing and taking your antibiotics, for the sake of your own health, for sure!



About the Author: Javeria Kamal is currently studying in 6th semester of pharm-D. She works for the animal rights and human rights as a member of WWF-Pakistan and an internee for ACAP respectively. She has studied phlebotomy and worked as an internee at Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, Karachi, Pakistan and has worked as a patient counselor for the project SMART-DPIC run by KMC-KMDC. Javeria can be reached at [email protected]

About this article: This article is competing for the JPMS International Medical Writing Contest 2014.

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