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Here’s everything you REALLY need to know about antibiotic resistance

Published on:18 September 2020, 17:30pm IST
Every year millions of people around the world get an antibiotic-resistant infection and thousands of people die because of it. This is why understanding what antibiotic resistance is extremely important.
Shreya Gupta
Safeguard yourself from antibiotic resistance. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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It’s a fact well known that the discovery of antibiotics changed the field of medicine completely. After all, antibiotics have single-handedly increased the life expectancy of humans, saving us from life-threatening bacterial infections. But imagine, what if you develop an infection like a UTI and there’s nothing that antibiotics can do. 

Scary right? Well, such a condition is called antibiotic resistance. It happens when the bacteria, or the infection, no longer responds to the prescribed antibiotics and continues to grow in your body. Such a condition gets difficult to treat and can even be fatal.

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But why should you care about antibiotic resistance?
It is the bacteria and not the human body that becomes resistant to antibiotics and therefore the world needs to change the way it uses antibiotics. You see, when we take antibiotics over and over again–self-prescribing and using them for viral illnesses–we end up creating a strain of bacteria that is harder to eliminate. This is mainly because bacteria are constantly finding new ways to save themselves from the effects of antibiotics and are evolving. 

If antibiotics lose the effectiveness to kill infection-causing bacteria then it will become hard for the healthcare system to treat and control public health threats. 

Antibiotic resistance has spread across the world already and is making diseases such as pneumonia difficult to treat. The resistance not only makes the treatment difficult but also makes it difficult to care for people with chronic diseases. 

antibiotic resistance
Antibiotic resistance can make the elimination of bacteria difficult. Image courtesy: Shutterstock.

Also, read: Too many antibiotics can give you irritable bowel disease, says this study

What can you do to prevent antibiotic resistance?
Now that you have understood that antibiotic resistance is caused by the misuse and overuse of antibiotics, the World Health Organisation provided the following guidelines for individuals to reduce the impact and control the spread of antibiotic resistance. 

  • You should always take antibiotics only and when prescribed by your doctor.
  • Never ask or demand antibiotics from your doctor if they feel you don’t need it.
  • Complete the full course of antibiotics even if you have started feeling better midway the treatment.
  • Never use or share your leftover antibiotics

Of course, one way to reduce your dependency on antibiotics is by preventing infections in the first place. This you can do by maintaining good hand hygiene, eating hygienic food, and taking a balanced diet that keeps your immune system in check.

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Shreya Gupta Shreya Gupta

Finding nirvana in good food, Shreya also loves reading books and is a die-hard Potterhead. Confident and motivated she's fun to be with. Plus food. Always.