Antibiotic Problems

by Vassilis Ragoussis on April 30, 2014

Antibiotic resistance has always been a huge concern for doctors and people all over the world, and now that problem has become a reality. This problem is caused when antibiotics are ineffective in killing or controlling bacterial growth. This causes the problem that the bacteria can continue to multiply and are hence seen as resistant. The widespread and carefree use of antibiotics has unfortunately caused this problem. This resistance causes increased healthcare costs and problems in treatment, leading to many people having to take a “cocktail” of antibiotics.

The two ways in which bacteria become resistant are as such: the mutation of genetic material, and getting the resistance from a similar bacterium. The mutation of genetic material entails an impulsive change to genetic material within the bacterium. Each different mutation that occurs can express a different sort of resistance. For example, it can lead to the bacteria to excrete chemicals that render the antibiotic ineffective. Another way the resistance can occur is by affecting the way the antibiotic works.

Some antibiotics work by stopping important molecules from binding to ribosomes where protein synthesis happens. So the mutation in the bacterium can stop this process by removing the target that the antibiotic affects.

The other way resistance occurs is by acquiring certain genes through conjugation from other bacterium. This can happen vertically when new generations of bacterium inherit the resistance. Or horizontally where the bacteria share the mutations with other such bacteria.

The more people use antibiotics the higher the chance that these mutations are realized and allowed to take effect. It is without surprise that antibiotic resistance poses a huge threat to hospitals and medical advancement. The more the mutations and resistance spread the less likely we will be able to control and prevent the spread of bacterial disease.

To combat this, doctors should be very careful in how they prescribe the antibiotic, and the patient should carefully follow the prescription instructions of taking them. A lot of patients stop taking the antibiotic when they start feeling better, however the drugs must be continued to ensure all the bacterium are either stopped or killed. If you stop the cycle of antibiotics early, some bacterium may remain. The bacterium that remains could be resistant and hence multiply and cause devastating problems, including severe problems and further illness.

Along with this, new strains of mutant bacteria can evolve where there is simply no way of treating it. This increases the chance of death in patients with infections. In Europe, 25,000 people die a year from bacterium that are resistant to drugs.

This number will only continue to rise if we do not combat the problem of overusing antibiotics. We should potentially limit antibiotic use and regularly monitor those who do.

Further complications include economic problems too. The cost of healthcare will increase dramatically as doctors and healthcare systems have to find new antibiotics that work. The increase in price of research will further increase the price of medicines meaning that a lot of the population will not be able to afford buying drugs to combat any illnesses they have.

 

References:

 

http://www.tufts.edu/med/apua/about_issue/about_antibioticres.shtml

 


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