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All about Antibiotic Resistance - Can it be controlled?

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All about Antibiotic Resistance - Can it be controlled?

“Antibiotic resistance poses a significant threat to global health, food security, and development.” according to World Health Organization (WHO). 

 

Antibiotic resistance is a growing concern in the medical field, as bacteria and other microorganisms become resistant to the drugs used to fight them. This can lead to more severe infections and a higher risk of death in humans. But what exactly is antibiotic resistance, and can it be controlled?

 

In today’s article, we will discuss antibiotic resistance. What is it, and why is it being talked about worldwide? What are the causes of antibiotic resistance, and the most important question, is whether it can be controlled? 

 

What is Antibiotic Resistance?

Antibiotics treat bacterial infections and prevent them from infecting or spreading to other areas. As the name suggests, Antibiotics are supposed to work against bacteria as a shield to provide protection and prevention. 

 

However, Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria or other microorganisms evolve to become resistant to the drugs used to fight them. They become ineffective and fail at treating the infections caused by the bacteria. This can lead to more severe health issues and increases the risk of death if left untreated in the long run. 

 

This can happen in a few ways, such as:

 

  • Bacteria can develop mutations that make them resistant to certain drugs.

 

  • Bacteria can acquire ‘resistance genes’ from other bacteria through the process known as “horizontal gene transfer.”

 

Causes of Antibiotic Resistance 

 

  • Natural Selection

Bacteria are naturally all around us. They are constantly evolving and adapting to our environment. The ones naturally resistant to antibiotics survive and reproduce and pass on their resistance genes to other bacteria. This process is called natural selection which, over time, will become more resistant to antibiotics as their numbers grow. 

 

  • Mutation

Like other microorganisms, bacteria can acquire genes from other bacteria through genetic mutations. Passing resistant genes from one bacteria to another can make them more powerful and hard to die than before. The process of exchanging resistance genes with other bacteria is known as horizontal gene transfer. 

 

  • Overuse and misuse of Antibiotics

When antibiotics are used excessively, in more amounts than recommended, the bacteria can become resistant to the drug. This is because the drugs only kill the most vulnerable bacteria, leaving the other stronger and more resistant bacteria to survive and reproduce. When these resistant bacteria reproduce, they can pass on their resistance to other bacteria, making it more difficult to treat infections caused in the future. 

 

  • Lack of new antibiotics 

In recent years, the development of new antibiotics has slowed, making it difficult to combat the increasing number of antibiotic-resistant infections. Developing new antibiotics is a costly and time-consuming process. Many pharmaceutical companies have reportedly shifted their attention to other areas for the same reason. As a result, we are running out of new antibiotics, making it harder to fight the resistant bacteria. 

 

Can antibiotic resistance be controlled?

Yes, Antibiotic resistance can be controlled. 

 

To some level, antibiotic resistance occurs naturally, but overuse and misuse of antibiotics in humans are causing more harm. Infections such as gonorrhoea, pneumonia, tuberculosis, blood poisoning, and foodborne diseases are becoming harder to treat as antibiotics are getting less effective. This leads to a higher mortality rate in humans as the infections are not treated with the available medicines. 

 

As it is accelerated by misuse and overuse of antibiotics mainly, steps can be taken to prevent it from spreading: 

 

  • Proper use of Antibiotics

One of the main factors behind the cause is the overuse and misuse of antibiotics. Using without any prescription from healthcare providers is one of the primary causes of this. To reduce its use, patients should not ask for antibiotics alone. Like other medications, antibiotics should also be used only in consultation with doctors and other professional health experts. They must be prescribed only when they are truly needed to cure the infection. 

 

  • Improve infection control

Infection control measures such as hand hygiene, food hygiene, isolation, and keeping the surroundings clean can help to reduce the spread of antibiotic-resistant infections. 

 

  • New Antibiotics

The development of new antibiotics is essential for fighting against antibiotic resistance. This can be achieved by increasing the production of new antibiotics and fulfilling the requirements. 

 

  • Use of vaccines

Vaccines can help to reduce the need for antibiotics by preventing infections in the first place. This can be particularly important for preventing infections caused by these antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. 

 

  • Encourage alternative treatments

Alternative treatments such as phages, immunotherapies, and CRISPR-based therapies might also help to reduce the need for antibiotics and limit the development of resistant bacteria. 

 

Conclusion:

Controlling antibiotic resistance is a complex issue requiring effort and support from all sectors. This includes healthcare providers, public health officials, policymakers, researchers, and the public. By working together, we can control and prevent it. 

 

The government and the healthcare industry should take measures to control antibiotic resistance. To achieve this, effective policies must be implemented to promote responsible antibiotic use and new antibiotics and alternative treatments must be developed. This should also include measures such as strict regulations on the use of antibiotics in humans and animals.


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