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Antibiotic Resistance

What is Antibiotic Resistance?

The inappropriate and sometimes unprescribed use of antibiotics can lead to serious problems when the bacteria, virus, and other microorganisms develop an immunity of sorts to the antibiotics. This happens when the bacteria adapt to the effects of the antibiotic or form protective membranes against them so that the antibiotics cannot effectively exert their effects anymore.

This condition can take place if a person does not follow the correct dosage of the antibacterial or antiviral medications, or does not complete the full regimen of the drug prescription; this causes the microorganisms to develop a resistance to that particular medication so that when it is used again, it will have no detrimental effects to the microorganism.

DRUG RESISTANCE

Image source : wales.nhs.uk

 

Causes of Antibiotic Resistance

The primary culprit in the occurrence of this condition is the wide and unchecked or unregulated use of antibiotics both within the confines of medicinal practice and the treatment of farm animals used as a source of food. Some people can also access high strength antibiotics without a proper prescription, and more often than not, especially if they do not have enough medical knowledge, these medications are inappropriately used.

In the medical field, when physicians overlook the importance of explaining the medical regimen in detail to their patients, it may cause to patients to think that they can take a shortcut through the regimen and skip some doses, the main reason for this thinking is antibiotics are among the most expensive drugs out in the market. But what most people do not know is, the risk of developing a resistance to antibiotics is much more risky, and not to mention, a whole lot more expensive than completing the correct dose of the antibiotics in the first place.

A common practice for some people is to stop taking the medications when they start to feel better, thinking that the sickness has passed and the pathogens were eliminated. What they do not know is the pathogens may have just been weakened but not yet killed, which is why the symptoms of the disease have subsided.

Another common factor in the occurrence of this condition is the misconception of most people that when you get sick with something, you should immediately take antibiotics to counteract the disease even if it is just a simple cold or flu.

Another cause of antibiotic resistance is the use of antibiotics in treating livestock used as food sources by humans; these food source animals like fish, pigs, cows, and chicken are sometimes given antibiotics by farmers to make them more resistant to disease. But it has been found out that when these animals develop a resistance to the medications, the drug resistant organisms can transfer to humans through direct contact, or when their meat is consumed as a food source.

 

Mechanisms of Antibiotic Resistance

There are a number of ways where microorganism like bacteria can form an immunity to certain antibiotics, these include;

The process of drug modification and inactivation by some bacteria: when these bacteria are exposed to a dose of antibiotics that they can survive, they produce substances that protect them against the effects of the antibiotics. Reducing membrane susceptibility drug and accumulation: certain microorganisms can alter their outer membranes and decrease the drugs ability to penetrate it.

Alteration of the drugs target site of binding: certain antibiotics can only take effect by binding to specific proteins on the microorganisms outer membranes, the microorganisms adapt to this by changing the protein signatures of these binding sites so that the drug molecules have nothing to bind to.

DNA mutation: just like humans who have undergone immunizations, some micro fauna can also develop an immunity to drugs that they survive by altering their genetic make-up and make themselves extremely resistant to that particular medication.

 

Antibiotic Resistance Evolution

Although limited only to the simplest level, even the most simple form of living things like these microorganisms can also evolve and alter their genetic make-up over time to adapt the their environment. This includes the bacteria’s evolution to make itself resistant to the otherwise deadly effects of antibiotics, it does this by altering its protein sequences that are susceptible to the drugs. Overtime, a certain strain of bacteria can become immune to various antibiotics with various mechanisms of action, making a super bug, or a strain that is immune to almost all forms of antibiotic treatments.

 

Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria

There is a relatively long list of bacteria that have the potential to become resistant to certain antibiotics, some of the most common ones are;

Staphylococcus aureus – strains have been found resistant to Penicillin, Vancomycin, Methicillin, Erythromycin, Oxazolidinones, and Tetracycline.

Clostridium difficile – resistant to levofloxacin and ciprofloxacin.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa – an opportunistic microorganism that has developed multiple resistance to a number of antibiotics.

 

Bacterial Resistance to Antibiotics

Bacteria are the class of microorganisms that have the most populous numbers when it comes to antibiotic resistance development, this is primarily because most antibiotics have been created for bacteria and oftentimes, a bacteria can develop an immunity to different classes of antibiotics. This is due to the organisms’ ability to alter its DNA and make itself resistant to substances that it survives.

Antibiotic Resistant Infections

Antibiotic resistant infections are caused by micro fauna that have been exposed to certain antibiotics and have developed immunities to it. When they get transmitted from one host to another, the resultant condition is termed to as an antibiotic resistant infection, this is harder to treat than previous infections of the same pathogens and usually entails a long and rigorous regimen of stronger kinds of antibiotics.

Antibiotic Resistance Prevention

The single and most effective way to prevent antibiotic resistance is to always follow the correct dosage and regimen of any drug that is prescribed to you. Do not self medicate, and always follow a reputable doctor’s advice on the ingestion of antibiotic drugs. For minor illnesses like colds, it is better to strengthen your immune system to fight them off instead of taking antibiotics. It would also be wise to know you source of livestock meat and make sure that the animals were not given any sort of antibiotics that will make them harbor strains of resistant organisms.

 

Know about side effects of antibiotics.

 

References:

http://dwb4.unl.edu/chem/chem869k/chem869klinks/www.fda.gov/fdac/features/795_antibio.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antibiotic_resistance#Causes

www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs194/en/

http://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/index.html



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