Antibiotic resistance is a problem that has been steadily increasing over the last few decades. Some of the major culprits for this increase in antibiotic resistance are as follows: increased usage of antibiotics by humans, the evolution of resistance to previously effective antibiotics, and the decreased cost of using antibiotics. It is important to remember however that antibiotic resistance does not occur in nature. It is an occurrence that occurs within our body. As such, it is important to recognize what can cause it and how it may affect us by helping to reduce the risk of becoming infected with antibiotic resistance.
Makers of pharmaceuticals: The development of antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria in the environment is partly to blame for the increase in antibiotic resistance. In developing countries where cheap labor and poor infrastructure are the norm, farmers often use unapproved drugs on their crops. Such farmers may also use expired drugs that have been left unloved in storage. These drugs have been passed from one person to another, compromising the efficacy of the medication. A similar situation exists within the pharmaceutical industry: drug companies that produce popular antibiotics like penicillin have released generic versions without first testing them on animals.
Humans: Although antibiotic resistance may be caused by the factors mentioned above, the real reason why antibiotic usage has increased is our increased reliance upon antibiotics in medicine. In the US, doctors order more than 22 prescriptions for a gram of antibiotic every year. To combat this, many doctors prescribe more than the recommended dose. This, over time, allows the antibiotic to build up a surplus of strength, thus making it less effective.
Use of antibiotics in animals: Some animals, like dogs, are given strong doses of antibiotics without monitoring their diet or exercise. The same is true of some pregnant dogs. Such antibiotics are used when there is a risk of infection from parasites, especially flea-based ones. While antibiotics can be effective in killing parasites, they are not suitable for killing the bacteria that cause infections. As a result, antibiotic resistance develops more quickly in these animals, increasing the risk of antibiotic resistance among people.
Increase in antibiotic use: Overuse of antibiotics is not the only cause of antibiotic resistance. It is also a result of antibiotic use being more widespread than initially thought. For example, it was assumed that infections caused by bacteria treated with antibiotics would be rarer than infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. As a result, many people suffering from various diseases were put on antibiotic prescriptions, despite the fact that these medications are not more effective, and may actually make the symptoms worse.
Antibiotic resistance can affect people as well, though it may take a longer time to develop. Some studies suggest that antibiotic use during pregnancy may increase the risk of developing antibiotic resistance due to alterations in bacterial communities. While antibiotic use is generally safe, pregnant women must consider alternative means of obtaining medical care or wait to treat their conditions. It is also recommended that you contact your doctor if you suspect that you may be infected with a disease that is causing antibiotic resistance.