Antimicrobial resistance can result in reduced effectiveness and prevention of a big number of health conditions caused by parasites, bacteria, viruses, and fungi which is why it has become one of the major threats to global public health today.
The development is happening all around the world and many states have chosen to intervene by taking measures to counter the problem through the introduction of alternative treatments or resistance mechanisms.
Although the problem is well-known by a majority of the people nowadays, there are still a considerable number of people who are not aware of how some of their everyday habits can put them at the risk of antibiotic resistance.
Some of the examples of the habits that can increase the chances of antimicrobial resistance are using hand sanitizers and taking medications as soon as the symptoms of a fever or any other illness start to occur.
Both of these can result in antibacterial overkill and hence antimicrobial resistance although both of these are cited as ‘healthy habits’ by several people. These are also promoted commonly in different media channels.
What Causes Antimicrobial Resistance?
The leading cause of developing antimicrobial resistance is taking too many antibiotics repeatedly which leads to the formation of bacteria that are not affected by the drug or what are commonly known as drug-resistant bacteria.
Bacteria are present in an abundant amount normally in human beings normally, some of which are essential for the healthy functioning of the body and others which can be the reason behind illnesses and disorders.
Whenever a person is taking an antibiotic to supposedly fight off the harmful bacteria, he/she is also unknowingly killing off the beneficial bacteria in his/her body that are actually needed to manage the former.
Taking antibiotics without proper supervision can give a chance to the germs and the resistant bacteria to develop and multiply much quicker. Stopping resistant germs to divide is typically the job of the good bacteria that are killed by the antibiotics.
Antibiotic resistance is then, the ultimate result as the bacteria tend to change and adapt in a way they are no longer affected by the chemicals, antibacterial agents, or any of the usual prescription drugs taken by people.
Having this condition is more dangerous than some people assume as it can make the treatment of even the ‘minor’ disorders complication because no drug or medication seems to works on the disease-causing microbes.
How Do Bacteria Become Resistant?
How are bacteria able to overcome the effects of the drugs that are specifically formulated to target them and the infection they cause? This is a common question. There are a number of ways bacteria can become resistant.
Some of the bacteria gradually develop the ability to neutralize the antibiotic which makes it ineffective. Others switch their site rapidly and spread all over the body so that there are too many infections at once and some tend to pump out the antibiotics from the body.
The bacteria that can be treated easily with the use of proper antibiotics can also target the DNA and genetic material to enhance their defense mechanism. This can also make the body favor the harmful bacteria over the good ones.
Even if a small number of infectious bacteria are left behind, they can multiply and take the place of the essential bacteria that were killed as an effect of taking antibiotics. All of these situations make room for the formation of drug-resistant bacteria.
What Are The Dangers Of Antimicrobial Resistance?
In accordance with the World Health Organization, the patients having health conditions caused by drug-resistance microbes are automatically at a higher risk of having even worse issues, complications, and even death.
The patients with infections caused by drug-resistant bacteria also tend to need more medical attention and some more healthcare resources than the ones who are infected by microbes that are not resistant to antibiotics.
The World Health Organization also reported an increase in antimicrobial resistance worldwide in 2012 with the highest one in resistance to drugs used in treatment o HIV.
Thenceforward, there was also an increase in first-line treatment drug resistance around that world which reportedly requires the development of much more advanced as well as expensive drugs in the coming future.
Antimicrobial resistance has now been seen in some of the most dangerous and life-threatening conditions. For example, there were around 480,000 cases of drug-resistant tuberculosis reported in hundred countries.
The treatment required for drug-resistance tuberculosis takes a long time and comes with much severe symptoms than the normal tuberculosis infection.
In addition, a number of hospital-related infections are also caused by drug-resistant bacteria. There have recently been cases of hospital-acquired illnesses caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, also known as MRSA.
Globally, the formation of various types of drug-resistant bacteria has been reported. Resistance has been observed in HIV, malaria, and even more common conditions such as pneumonia, gonorrhea, urinary tract infections, bloodstream infections and many more.
The most dangerous outcome of drug-resistance can be the loss of control over various types of infections such as tuberculosis which was one of the leading causes of death in the past centuries.
What Are The Effects Of Antimicrobial Resistance?
In addition to making common illnesses which have been controlled complicated and dangerous once again, antimicrobial resistance can also increase the risk of many other health conditions. Some of the effects of antibacterial resistance are:
According to an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine, taking the commonly prescribed medications, Erythromycin increases the risk of death due to a dangerous cardiovascular disease by 250 percent.
The latest research on antibiotics makes it clear that the medicines themselves cannot really cause cancer. However, studies on the link between a high dosage of antibiotics and cancer have shown an increased risk of developing cancerous tumors specifically breast cancer.
The researchers have also found that the women who take antibiotics repeatedly have a higher risk of breast cancer. This is because a high antibiotic consumption affects the metabolism, immune functions and inflammation of phytochemicals and estrogen.
Studies on the effects of taking too many antibiotics have now also shown that it has links with the global rise in various kinds of sensitivities and allergies such as food allergies.
This is seen more specifically in children since they are given medicines as soon as signs of illness start to appear in them.
According to a study published in Journal of Allergies and Clinical Immunology, using antibiotics in the first year of a child’s life can result in increased risk of asthma and eczema by the age of 6 or 7.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has also shown that many children are given antibiotics despite having conditions caused by viruses. The CDC reports 40% of the upper respiratory infections that are viral are prescribed antibiotics.
Taking too many antibiotics without proper supervision can kill off the good bacteria required by the body. Some of the bacteria which are known as the gut microbes are needed for proper functioning of the digestive system.
They help in absorbing nutrients from the foods in the diet, keeping infections caused by bad bacteria away, balance the pH levels, and provide feedback to the brain. Gut bacteria can also be killed off with too many antibiotics.
This can cause a lot of health issues including development of digestive disorders, nutritional deficiencies since the body will not be able to absorb the nutrients, bloating, constipation, and problems in digestion.