Antibiotic resistance: More dangerous than corona?

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We live in a world full of shortcuts, where we all try to get the solutions fast. So does microbes, which are an eternal part of our life. Microbes are everywhere, be it our gut, or environment, or air which we breathe in. But what we didn’t realize that in the way of opting shortcut to healing fast, we have provided a way to microbes to act smartly. They are now smarter than before and antibiotic resistance is an impending concern.

In short, antibiotics which used to kill and slow down their growth are no longer effective. Bacteria have an amazing inherent property of evolving and becoming resistant to antibiotics. Do you know we live in a country where all generic antibiotics are showing more than 90% resistance? Maybe we do not understand the value of it now, but over time it is going to be a major public health emergency. Now before alarming you, I would first like you to understand what antibiotics are and how microbes are becoming resistant and what our role is. 

Antibiotics are essential drugs that help stop infections caused by bacteria. Here please have a note that antibiotics act on bacteria. The medium of action of these medicines is either by killing the bacteria or by keeping them from copying themselves or reproducing i.e., to stop their growth. Primarily, in layman’s terms, it is given in the case of infection, which is caused by bacteria.

Now I would like you to recall when you took the last antibiotics. I can be sure that you must have used it either in the case of fever or in cough and cold or diarrhea. And also, I would request you all in the world of google just for once google the causing agent of these diseases that I mentioned above. Most of the time, all these health ailments are caused by viruses and not by bacteria.

So now you will understand what is going wrong in our health system and how bacteria are becoming resistant to all the existing antibiotics. And you all will be shocked to know that in this developing world where artificial intelligence is growing, we do not have any new antibiotics that are being discovered. We still rely on our conventional antibiotics for treatments. So here comes the cherry on the cake, existing drugs are becoming resistant, and surprise is we do not have any new drugs to surpass or deal with the changing scenario. 

There are many dimensions of it that how it is developing so vastly in our country. India stands very high in the case of infectious disease incidence, and the reason being we are a developing economy where poverty, sanitation is a problem. So, now imagine the medicines that are available to treat such infections are also becoming resistant. We do not realize, but we will land up in the Pre-Penicillin era again where there were no antibiotics, and so even basic diseases used to cause a high death toll. I believe you all must have known the severity of the problem better now.

Another question that arises is, what is the reason for such a pace of antimicrobial and antibiotic resistance? The answers are many, and the unfortunate part is nobody is paying enough attention to it. Irrational use of antibiotics by patients, self-medication, and irrational dispensing of antibiotics by doctors and pharmacies are some of the reasons.

Understand your contribution to it, have you taken medicines from the pharmacies and asked them to lower down the dosage for two days even though the doctor prescribed it for five days? Or do you remember not completing the course because you felt better in 2 days, so what is the need to take medicines (antibiotics) for more days? And I am damn sure that you must have done self-medication as well, even I used to go for self-medication before I realized what harm I am causing to myself. And also have you ever noticed any precautions over the medicines (antibiotics) that suggest us not to consume without doctor’s prescription. I know the answers to most of my questions would be no. 

Now another scenario is why doctors are prescribing it when it is not required, like in case of viral fevers or case of cold and cough. I do not have an answer to this, but I would really like to raise awareness among all of you that whenever you fall ill, and you visit doctors, always ask which medicines he/she is prescribing and what it will do? If that is not something right, then at least google the molecules of the medicines that are being prescribed to you. This is the least you can do to have a safer dose and always seek advice before consuming antibiotics.

I understand that doctors should be cautious and responsible while prescribing medicines to patients, ensuring that no antibiotics are given for viral illnesses, but it is something which is not directly in our hand. But what is in our hands is to be questionable and aware of what we are consuming. Do not be a blind follower of what the doctor is prescribing; always question what they have given you. Your health is in your hands, so be sensitized about it. I am not saying that all doctors are giving irrationally, but most of them are. 

I don’t know whether this question came in your mind or not, but when I became aware of the scenario, I could not believe that the government has not made any rules for the sale of antibiotics. So I did research and realized I am wrong. Sale of antibiotics in pharmacies is not allowed without a prescription, and the government penalizes them if they are found doing so.

But it is reality that antibiotics are available over the counter; instead, pharmacists are also prescribing it sometimes. So this is another aspect where it has been dispensed irrationally to the consumers. The more the consumption, the more would be the resistance. Analyzing the situation, I came to the conclusion that we lack awareness of what harm it is causing to us and the public health of the country.

We all are afraid to deal with a situation when ‘Corona’ become more serious in India. Still, antimicrobial resistance and antibiotic resistance can be even more dangerous. It is a germ which will kill us slowly and steadily. It will be ironic that we will face the same challenge today that we met 100 years ago if it is not controlled at the right time. We might land in an era where many human beings died of infectious diseases because we did not have any antibiotic agents. So at least do what you can- Be aware, always seek advice before seeking antibiotics, complete the course of antibiotics, do not leave it in between that helps bacteria to develop resistance. Doctors in the row, please educate patients and prescribe antibiotics rationally. 

Be Antibiotic aware- smart use is the best care. Unite to fight antibiotic resistance.


Featured Image Credits: Wikimedia

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