Every year, everyone faces their share of colds, fever, sore throats, and everyday viruses. It’s pretty normal to get sick now and then. Experiencing the common cold is, as the name suggests, very common and is nothing to worry about. What you should be worried about, though, is overusing antibiotics.
When you bring your children to the doctor, do you usually expect an antibiotic prescription? If yes, then you’re not alone. Many people expect antibiotics every time they go to the doctor, even if they have nothing to worry about. But over the years, the dangers of misusing antibiotics are slowly appearing, and it’s becoming a huge concern.
So How Do Antibiotics Work, Exactly?
The invention of antibiotics is one of the most important medical advances of the medical world. But due to the usage of antibiotics, many antibiotic-resistant bacteria have appeared in the past.
To understand how antibiotics work, you need to get to know the two of the most common germs that people get in contact with every day, which is bacteria and viruses.
Of course, bacteria are living organisms that run with only a single cell. Bacteria are everywhere, but most don’t cause us any illnesses. Some even help us run our bodies. One good example of that is lactobacillus, which lives inside our guts, helping our digestive system.
But of course, some of them can cause harm to us, and so, antibiotics come in and kill those organisms by stopping their growth and reproduction.
On the other hand, viruses are not living organisms. They are particles that contain their genetic code and can only live through invading other cells. Antibiotics don’t work against them. So if you’re taking precautions against COVID-19 by taking antibiotics, your efforts are useless since they don’t work against viruses.
Why Is It Harmful to Overuse Antibiotics?
Taking antibiotics every time you get sick not only makes them useless, but there are also side effects. Over time, this creates antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which is very scary not only for you but for everyone.
These bacteria will change over time, so stronger antibiotics will be needed. And when overuse of antibiotics continues, the situation will only worsen until we can’t create antibiotics for that super bacteria anymore.
If you’re still indifferent over that fact, here are some more personal reasons why you should stop overusing antibiotics.
Studies have shown that half of the antibiotics given to children are for upper respiratory illnesses linked to the common cold. With that fact alone, it’s not really serious. But according to the CDC, children who take antibiotics routinely are more susceptible to antibiotic-resistant strains of the bacteria called C. diff.
The C. diff. Bacteria are commonly located in the gut and cause severe diarrhea. It is also responsible for 250,000 infections in hospitalized patients. This leads to 14,000 fatalities of both adults and children every year.
Your intestines contain 100 trillion bacteria in various strains. While some of these bacteria are deadly, our gut can balance them out with the good ones, and this balance can be thrown out of whack by the use of antibiotics. This is always the case for C. diff. Thankfully, you can replenish good bacteria after antibiotics with a healthy diet and the help of supplements.
Along with C. diff, the CDC is also tracking the cases of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea. Of course, gonorrhea is a well-known illness that causes pelvic pain, ectopic pregnancy, neonatal eye infection, etc.
A specific strain called Neisseria gonorrhoeae has been discovered to develop antibiotic resistance to the ones used for it. The only antibiotics that can fight against this antibiotic-resistant illness are cephalosporin antibiotics.
The further this resistance spreads, the more the generic antibiotics will be phased out. This means that ridding patients of their infections will require more intensive and expensive forms of therapy. The average bill that a patient has when suffering from antibiotic-resistant bacteria is at least $18,000.
And that’s just back in 2009. As we all know, overusing antibiotics is still common in households, and more antibiotic-resistant bacteria have appeared over the years. With the situation getting worse, you can expect that the bills themselves are higher than they have ever been.
So if you’re still overusing antibiotics, it might come back to bite you later, not only in terms of health but to your finances as well.
With the overuse of antibiotics, it’s only a matter of time until a super bacteria resistant to all kinds of antibiotics will suddenly pop up and attack us all. So the overuse of antibiotics affects you and us in general. So if you know what’s right, use your antibiotics more responsibly before it’s too late.