Antibiotic Resistance and Its Causes
There are different infections caused by microbes, and they have to be treated with certain antimicrobial agents. If an infection occurs due to bacteria, it is called a bacterial infection, and it requires treatment with antibiotics.
Antibiotic resistance is a very serious problem. If there are resistant bacteria to certain antibiotics, they cannot be treated with this medication. Bacteria can adapt and mutate in an effort to avoid the effects of antibacterial agents. Trying to survive is a natural process for all living organisms.
Antibiotics have been being used massively just since the 1940s, and during the past years, the antibiotic resistance has progressed significantly. There are different reasons why this happens, but the main one is that we use antibiotics too much. Every time we use antibiotics, they allow bacteria to adapt to their effects and become resistant. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are able to share their genetic information through plasmids, allowing other bacteria to become as strong as they are.
Selective Pressure and Its Effects on Antibiotic Resistance
Selective pressure is directly related to developing antibiotic resistance because it is a natural process during which a population develops special traits to survive under the influence of environmental factors.
The long legs and neck of giraffes are one of the examples of how selective pressure looks like. Thanks to selection pressures, new populations of giraffes developed physically to be able to get food. The occurrence of populations of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is the result of selective pressure occurred due to the massive use of antibacterial agents.
Today, antibiotics are used everywhere. They can be bought in a drugstore easily, and people often misuse them or overuse. Such the use of antibiotics is our big mistake because it allows bacteria to develop resistance. Even health professionals often prescribe antibiotics when it is not needed because antibiotic resistance has not been such a major problem for many years. Today, thousands of people die from bacterial infections that cannot be managed with antibacterial agents.
Antibiotics are often used for the treatment of viral infections, which is wrong; they are used in livestock to increased animal weight; they are often used for prophylaxis when it is not necessary; and, finally, they are often used incorrectly in treating bacterial infections.
How Do We Manage Antibiotic Resistance?
Antibiotic resistance requires developing new medications constantly, adapting them to new populations. We do need to use synthetic antibacterial agents for the treatment of bacterial infections, but we have to decrease the use of antibiotics to a minimum, because the massive use of them creates selective pressure, forcing bacteria to mutate more quickly.
Everyone can help manage this problem from individuals and health professionals to government leaders. The use of antibiotic has to be limited to only those cases, when bacterial infections really occur or for prophylaxis in people in the high-risk group.
It is extremely important to make medical tests available so that health professionals can diagnose infections based on facts. Also, it is recommended to use special tests checking the effectiveness of certain antibiotics for the treatment of particular infections.
Antibiotics should be strictly used according to recommendations of healthcare providers. Altering dosages or the length of the treatment without consulting healthcare providers may result in the occurrence of antibiotic resistance.
If we manage to do all these actions, we will decrease selective pressure; antibiotic resistance will slow down in its development; and lots of lives will be saved.