Authors: Annabelle Lopez
Antibiotics are medicines to prevent and treat bacterial infections such as kidney infections, chest infection, infected wounds and skin infections, amongst other ailments. Antibiotics were first discovered in 1928, by Scottish physician; Alexander Fleming. Since their discovery, they’ve become an essential tool in our fight against disease. Infections and ailments that were previously fatal or severely disabling became easily treatable, revolutionizing the healthcare industry and improving general quality of life worldwide. Before antibiotics became widely available, 90% of children with bacterial meningitis died, while today this figure has dropped significantly to somewhere between 20–30% for newborns, and just 2% for older children.
As well as their bacteria busting powers for fighting infections, antibiotics can be used to boost your immune system during chemotherapy, as well as protecting people and babies in intensive care against potentially dangerous illnesses, making them a truly indispensable treatment!
However, while antibiotics are an incredible treatment, as with many things, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. We are now facing a crisis that could reverse this hard-earned progress. Antibiotic resistance – this is where bacteria develop immunity to the antibiotics, rendering them useless – is on the rise. ‘Superbugs’ like MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and CRE (carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae) amongst many others are an ever-increasing threat, with almost 700,000 people dying globally from antibiotic-resistant ‘superbugs’.
Systematic misuse and overuse of antibiotics has led to this problem. A major issue is using antibiotics in order to try and treat viral infections like the common cold. Antibiotics aren’t useful in treating viruses and should only be used in the treatment of bacterial infections. Despite this, almost 30% of antibiotics prescribed by doctors are thought to be unnecessary, leading to; you guessed it, antibiotic resistance.
If this is left unchecked, drug resistance could lead to an ‘antibiotic apocalypse’. The antibiotic apocalypse is a catastrophic scenario, in which antibiotics could become totally ineffective and routine operations could become increasingly risky, whilst minor wounds and infections could pose the threat of death.
I think we can all agree, that’s not something we want…
Credit Anabelle Lopez, UKS Mobility
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