Penicillin ,which was the first antibiotic, now joins over 100 antibiotics commonly prescribed to treat bacterial infections. These drugs work to kill and inhibit further growth of bacteria. They are not effective treatment for fighting viruses or fungal infections. Antibiotics are prescribed for bacterial infections and should never be taken for other types of infections. Never save unused antibiotics for later use or take antibiotics that have been prescribed for someone else. Misuse of antibiotics causes serious consequences.
Development of Drug-Resistant Infections
The misuse of antibiotics results in the increased risk of drug-resistant infections. This means that the antibiotic is no longer effective against the disease-causing bacteria. The staff of the Mayo Clinic cite the recent spread of MRSA or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. This infection was once confined to hospitalized patients. Now a new strain of the bacteria has become prevalent and has infected healthy people in the general population. Drug-resistant infections are more difficult to treat, have a prolonged course of treatment and raise the cost of health care. Health care costs increase because of the need for more doctor’s visits, possible hospitalization and more expensive and toxic medications. Death is a consequence of certain drug-resistant infections. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria poses a global health treat since infectious bacteria adapt quickly. This presents the challenge to develop new antibiotics and treatments to keep pace with the new strains of bacteria.
Promoting Bacterial Overgrowth
One example of bacterial overgrowth attributed to antibiotic misuse is a new strain of Clostridum difficile. This bacterium causes diarrhea and serious intestinal conditions such as colitis. In 2000, a new clindamycin-resistant strain of Clostridum difficile was responsible for an outbreak of diarrhea in hospitals in the United States. Clostridum difficile diarrhea has long been associated with antibiotic use. Overuse of antibiotics suppresses the normal intestinal bacteria that inhibit the overgrowth of pathogenic microorganisms. According to the staff of the Mayo Clinic, the risk of susceptibility increases with recent use of broad spectrum antibiotics that treat a wide range of bacteria, use of multiple antibiotics and prolonged use. Preventative measures against contracting the illness include proper hand washing and hygiene and avoidance of unnecessary use of antibiotics.
Jeopardizing the Health of Others
Antibiotics should be taken exactly as prescribed by a physician. Never stop taking the medication a few days early simply because you feel better. A full course of antibiotic therapy is the only effective means of killing all of the harmful bacteria. A shortened course destroys only the most vulnerable bacteria and allows the relatively resistant bacteria to survive. Consequently, the infected person spreads the surviving bacteria to other people with whom he comes in contact.