We’ve heard the horror stories of people going into the hospitable for a relatively minor problem and coming out with an “untreatable” and potentially lethal infection. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the threat of superbugs and antibiotic resistance is “a quickly growing, extremely dangerous problem.” According to the news release earlier this week the threat of superbugs has escalated due to the overuse of antibiotics that “helped create bacteria that are outliving the drugs used to treat them.”
When bacterial infections are exposed to antibiotics they can learn how to outsmart them. These resistant bacteria can multiply causing serious infections. Once the bacteria discover how to outsmart the drug, they actually share genetic information with other bacteria to assist them in becoming antibiotic resistant as well.
The CDC cites the bacterial infection Clostridium difficile, which on its own, infects almost 250,000 people. This infection is “usually related to antibiotic use.” It causes severe diarrhea that can be lethal, and kills at least 14,000 people annually. These infections and other antibiotic-resistant infections can be prevented.
Hospitals aren’t the only hot zones for drug-resistant infections. They can occur anywhere: from skin contact, contact in a public place, or in some cases via sexual transmission. However, most of the fatal drug-resistant bacterial infections occur in healthcare settings, hospitals, and nursing homes, according to the CDC.
Overprescription of antibiotics is one of the primary reasons we are dealing with superbugs. This is an easy one to blame on a doctor and they are definitely to blame in part. But part of the problem are patients who demand an antibiotic when they visit the doctor, even when they have a cold or flu—both of which are viral infections and antibiotics don’t work on them. But the regular exposure to antibiotics has helped otherwise weak bacteria in the body become stronger.
What You Can Do:
-Stop demanding antibiotics from your doctor when you have a cold or flu. It won’t help and will only contribute to the problem.
-Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, especially before eating and after using the bathroom.
-Cook meat and poultry thoroughly to kill bacteria.
-Wash all produce before consuming to prevent ingesting drug-resistant bacteria.
-If your doctor has prescribed an antibiotic for a bacterial infection, follow his or her directions. Do not skip doses or stop taking the drug prematurely as the bacteria can actually become stronger during these times.