Antiobiotic resistance- how NOT to create a superbug

We all know antibiotics are medicines used to treat, or prevent a bacterial infection. Hand up who has not taken a course of antibiotics in his/her life? Drops, pills, creams, drinking liquid, drip? Every time we are sick we think they are at our disposal, which unfortunately is less and less true.

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It is great that antibiotics help us get out of pneumonia, kidney or ear infection. However it is easy to forget that they are a lifeline for patients after organ transplants, people with cancer, newborn babies and their mums, with sepsis infection. We are losing them and losing them fast because more and more bacteria are becoming antibiotic resistant.

So how are we creating these smart buggers? Well, there are two major ways:

  • by taking antibiotics too often
  • by not taking the full course

If we take them too often we simply increase the chance that one of the microbes mutates in a way which allows it to deal with the substance that should be killing it/stopping it from growing. It is enough that out of millions of bacteria one goes of the usual DNA track, as it can give origin to a brand new strain. It only takes 20 to 30 min for one bacterium to split and turn into 2. Imagine we have killed all but ONE bacterium with our course of antibiotics. Within 30 min it has grown and split into 2, then 2 into 4, 4 into 8, 8 into 16, 16 into 32, 32 into 64 and 64 into 128 – and if we take the more optimistic scenario of 30 min doubling time in 3.5 hours from 1 we have 128!

The other one is not taking the full course of your antibiotics. The medicine usually kicks in from 24 to 48h of taking it. Many people read the label and say: if I already feel better, why on earth would I keep popping the pills for 7 days?!? Especially that more often than not we have some sort of side effects: affected stomach, skin problems etc. Well, you better listen to the good doctor and finish the prescription! If you don’t, you have just broken the  rule number one of martial arts. No actually you have broken the rule number two.

Rule number one: Never attack and avoid confrontation if possible

Rule number two: If you have to defend yourself make sure you neutralize the opponent completely. If you do not do it at the fist attempt, you will just enrage him and make him more dangerous.

Be a good samurai and follow both: take antibiotics only if really necessary and finish your prescription!

Let’s fight the bacteria to save our antibiotics.

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