Back in the 1930s a discovery changed the face of modern medicine for good – antibiotics. Countless lives have been saved by them since then but in the 21st century antibiotic misuse is making them less effective everyday, which could spell big trouble for everyone.
The problem is that many people, including some medical practitioners themselves fail to understand, or have forgotten, what antibiotics can and cannot do. The drugs kill bacteria. If you have an ear infection, tuberculosis or any other bacterial infection they can work wonders. But for viral infections (colds, flus etc.) they are useless. That fact does not stop thousands of patients rushing to their doctor’s office demanding them at the first sign of a runny nose and sadly many times that request is granted.
Even when taken for the right reasons antibiotics have side effects. Many who take them will experience nausea and diarrhea, but if they are doing their job that is something that unfortunately the patient has to live with.
But what global effect does the over prescription of antibiotics really have? Antibiotics work by flushing all bacteria from our systems, the good with the bad. The abuse of antibiotics has led to bacterial strains that have become resistant to the antibiotics available today – the so called “super bugs” – and scientists have less and less to work with every day when trying to develop new antibiotics to combat these threats.
And it is not only our own ingestion of antibiotics that threaten our health. Increasingly animals are given antibiotics for all kinds of reasons and we will ingest them once those animals have been slaughtered for their meat.
To stem this alarming trend people need to be reeducated about the proper use of antibiotics and understand that there are certain things that just cannot be cured by popping pills. The answer to your child’s nighttime cold symptoms cannot be found in a bottle of bright pink antibiotic. The simple fact is that if antibiotic abuse continues unchecked then by the timer they grow up they may have far more to worry about than the common cold as medicine may find itself out of solutions for real bacterial infections.