Did you know that bacteria are getting stronger and more resistant to the antibiotics that can usually kill them? This could make it harder for you to get well if you have a bacterial infection in the future.
As parents, it can be worrying to see your child ill and lethargic. You want to give them the best medicines that can have them well and back on their feet as quickly as possible. Do antibiotics immediately come to mind? Did you know that taking antibiotics when you do not need them can lead to something called antibiotic resistance? This is one of the biggest threats to our health today.
Because of antibiotic resistance, bacterial infections that used to be manageable − such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, blood poisoning, gonorrhea, and food-borne diseases − are becoming harder to treat. The medications that used to kill the bacteria are not able to do their job anymore. Our children’s generation could be more vulnerable to diseases that were previously easily treatable.
Using antibiotics appropriately can help keep you and your children safe. But first, it’s essential to understand what antibiotic resistance is all about. Experts from KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital Antimicrobial Stewardship Programme (ASP) give us the lowdown.
What are antibiotics?
In a nutshell, antibiotics are medications that are used to treat bacterial infections. Antibiotics kill bacteria, slow their growth and stop them from causing infection. They also help the body’s natural immune system fight bacterial infections, helping us recover from illnesses.
So what’s the problem?
Over the years, the misuse of antibiotics has become so widespread that bacteria have started to become resistant to them. Bacteria are getting smarter and learning to fight back. As bacteria keep adapting and evolving, antibiotics become less effective against them. This is what we call antibiotic resistance. When bacteria become resistant, antibiotics cannot fight them. Consequently, the bacteria multiply.
How does antibiotic resistance affect us?
Antibiotic resistance is a growing public health threat worldwide as there are not many new antibiotics available to counter the resistant bacteria.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more and more infections are becoming harder, or even impossible to treat because antibiotics become less effective with the inappropriate use of antibiotics. This means that infections that used to be simple to cure could become fatal − if the medications that are used to treat them no longer work.
Infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria can be very severe and may even cause death. In the long term, antibiotic resistance leads to higher medical costs, longer hospital stays, and increased mortality.
But don’t we need antibiotics to get well?
Not always. Antibiotics can cure bacterial infections but not viral infections such as the flu and common colds. Ask your doctor or pharmacist what you can do to feel better and to help with your symptoms without using antibiotics or medications.
(See also: Interview with an Antibiotic Pill)
So what should we do?
Help prevent antibiotic resistance with the following pointers:
✔ Talk to your doctor about whether you need antibiotics for your illness
✔ If prescribed, take the antibiotics as advised by your doctor
✔ Prevent infection by regularly washing hands and getting vaccinations
❌ Do not request for or insist on antibiotics if your doctor says that they are not needed
❌ Do not take leftover antibiotics
❌ Do not share antibiotics with others
Using antibiotics the right way can help save lives, and prevent the spread of antibiotic resistance. Do you really need antibiotics just for that runny nose or flu? Probably not. And you’ll be helping to curb the spread of antibiotic resistance too. Find out more at www.healthhub.sg/UseAntibioticsRight
This post is brought to you by the combined forces of the antibiotics resistance rebel army.