The Dangers of Overusing Antibiotics
Ever since the first antibiotic was discovered back in 1928, it’s been used to cure dangerous bacterial infections. However, as useful as antibiotics are, misuse of antibiotics can lead to severe conditions. Some people use antibiotics to treat viral infections, which fails because they are caused by viruses and not bacteria. As a result, a variety of problems can emerge when people misuse antibiotics and take them outside of the prescribed usage set forth by their physician. Here are some of the potential dangers of overusing antibiotics.
Misuse of Antibiotics Can Harm Good Bacteria
While some bacteria cause painful and dangerous infections, not all bacteria are harmful to the human body. In fact, there are numerous beneficial bacteria that assist the body with digestion, immunity, and other vital bodily functions. However, most antibiotics kill bacteria indiscriminately and cannot distinguish between harmful and good bacteria. As a result, misuse of antibiotics can kill off large portions of this helpful bacteria, also known as a microbiome of gut flora.
Bacteria Can Become More Resistant to Antibiotics and Facilitate Health Problems
The side effects of overusing antibiotics lead to strains of bacteria that are more resistant to it. This means that antibiotics will be less effective at treating bacterial infections over time because they are no longer affected by them. However, antibiotic-resistant conditions will not be exclusive to particular individuals but society as a whole. The strains of bacteria that grow resistances in one person can spread to others and cause increased antibiotic-resistant infections if they are not adequately curbed.
There are various health problems that have arisen due to the unregulated use of antibiotics. For example, children who receive doses of antibiotics for upper respiratory infections, like strep throat or ear infections, have been found to be more at risk of a C. difficile, which is a bacteria that can cause fatal diarrhea. A recent study showed that around 71% of children who experienced a C. difficile infection had taken antibiotics for respiratory ailments several weeks prior.
Many other diseases that have been readily treated throughout the years have grown more challenging to cure due to antibiotic-resistant infections. Strains of gonorrhea, pneumonia and other bacterial infections have developed resistance to the most commonly prescribed antibiotics.
Preventing Antibiotic-Resistant Infections From Growing
Individuals can take several steps to help reduce the rate of bacterial resistance to antibiotics before it’s too late. Only taking the amount of antibiotics that your doctor prescribes and not using it for future illnesses or sharing it with others will help prevent the growing resistance. Additionally, avoiding bacterial infections by maintaining good hygiene, like washing your hands regularly, means you won’t have to take an antibiotic treatment, to begin with.