What is the danger of antibiotic resistance?

Antibiotics are one of the greatest medical advances. They annually save the lives of thousands of people. However, in some cases, drugs can no longer help the patient. Antibiotics, which used to kill pathogens, today no longer work as they did before. So what is the reason? Are antimicrobials worse or are there other causes of the problem? Let’s look at this problem.


Table of contents:

  1. How do antibiotics work?
  2. Bacteria are out of control
  3. What is antibiotic resistance?
  4. Generations of drugs and antibiotic resistance
  5. Why does resistance to different antibiotics develop?
  6. The threat of epidemics and financial crisis
  7. Rational use of antibiotics
  8. Forecasts for the future
  9. Useful links

The problem of antibiotic resistance is not new. Every year, microorganisms become stronger, and the arsenal of means against them is gradually being exhausted. It has long been established that microbes can form resistance to disinfectants. Bacterial resistance to disinfectants is a property of microbes, which consists in their ability to reproduce and grow under conditions of contacting certain concentrations of disinfectants. Allocate natural and acquired bacterial resistance to external disinfectants [1]. Will the bacteria ultimately triumph over a man?

How do antibiotics work?

How do antibiotics work

Despite the fact that antibacterial agents are part of human life, not everyone knows how they act. The mechanism of action of antibiotics is quite complicated.

An antibiotic is a drug that fights various microbes. This means that doctors use it only to treat bacterial diseases. Antibacterial drugs can only affect bacteria (viruses and fungi are not sensitive to them). There are two types of drugs regarding the nature of their creation:

  • Natural. The first antibacterial agent penicillin was a mold fungus
  • Synthetic. All medicines obtained by artificial means

As a rule, synthetic options are more effective. Severe and mild illnesses are treated through their use. There are classes of antibiotics. Each class is usually named after the main active ingredient of the drug. The representatives of different classes of effectiveness vary greatly. There are both heavy and light antimicrobial agents. There are several chemical elements in the structure of powerful classes.

The mechanisms of action of antibiotics on certain microorganisms are always the same. The antibiotic is selected based on the results of surveys. Now for each microbe, there is an opportunity to choose a specialized drug. If the diagnosis does not give results, a wide-spectrum means are selected.

The main diagnostic tool is the analysis of the sensitivity of pathogenic microflora to antibiotics. Experts study the biological material of the affected area. For example, if we are talking about diseases of the genitourinary system, the doctor studies urinalysis with further bacterial culture.

A highly specialized drug will be more effective than an analog with a wide spectrum of action. To be able to prescribe such a drug, it is necessary to accurately determine the causative agent of the disease.

It is worth noting that antibacterial agents are not able to fight viruses and fungi. People may not see the difference. This can lead to serious consequences. However, in the treatment of severe viral diseases (cold, viral tonsillitis), anti-microbial drugs can be used to prevent complications. Often, against the background of hard-flowing diseases, bacteria begin to move into the active phase, causing dangerous complications.

Bacteria are out of control

For nearly 90 years, antibiotics have saved hundreds of millions of lives. Severe bacterial infections capitulated in front of the deadly force of new drugs. Until the 60s of the last century, physicians were confident in the unconditional victory over bacteria. However, it was not so easy. Microbes gradually began to adapt to antibiotics, producing resistance to them. Today this is one of the most serious problems that can turn into a real apocalypse for humanity.

In 2014, the World Health Organization sounded the alarm that more and more bacteria are beginning to spiral out of control. Resistant forms of antibiotics are becoming a real catastrophe for intensive care units. There are many pathogenic microbes with resistance to many antibacterial drugs.

Why does resistance to different antibiotics develop

Each year, an estimated 2 million people in the U.S. develop infections that are resistant to antibiotics. In some cases, these infections result in death [2].

Today, leading pharmaceutical companies have almost no effective antibiotics against resistant forms of bacteria. Over the past few years, enterococci have become resistant. The most disturbing news is that the bacteria are doing an excellent job dealing with the new generation of antibiotics.

What is antibiotic resistance?

Antibiotic resistance is the resistance of microorganisms to the action of antibiotics. Antibiotic-resistant agents are found in humans. However, their number is minimal. When the antibiotic begins to act, the entire cell population dies (bactericidal effect) or stops its development altogether (bacteriostatic effect). Resistant to antibiotics cells remain and begin to actively proliferate. Such predisposition is inherited.

A certain sensitivity to the action of a certain kind of antibiotics produces in the human body. This allows microorganisms not to respond to the action of the antibiotic. Also in some cases, the microorganisms themselves can begin to produce substances that neutralize the action of the substance.

Those microorganisms that are resistant to a particular type of antibiotics may, in turn, have resistance to similar classes of substances similar in their mechanism of action.

Generations of drugs and antibiotic resistance

There are 4 generations of antibacterial drugs. The latest generation demonstrates the greatest efficiency. The structure of antimicrobial tablets or injections contains many complex elements. 4th generation drugs have not only greater drug efficacy, but they are also less toxic to the body.

Last generation drugs are taken fewer times a day. The effect is achieved much faster. With their help, it is possible to cure chronic disease. With the right actions, the latest generation of medicines will be effective for several decades.

One of these antibiotics is Bactrim. It’s a broad-spectrum drug that fights pneumococci, typhoid fever, streptococci, bacillus dysentery, staphylococci, and E. Coli. Doctors prescribe Bactrim to patients because of its high efficacy against diseases of the respiratory system, gastrointestinal systems, urogenital systems caused by bacterial infections. In addition, the antibiotic is well tolerated by patients. Patients don’t experience its side effects. Thanks to these advantages that Bactrim is so popular among specialists.

Doctors in hospitals often prescribe 3 and 4 gen medications. Simple diseases are amenable to therapy when using drugs of the 3rd generation. They are more toxic. However, each person can buy them at a pharmacy at a nice price. The current generation is not so widespread and has a higher cost than the more outdated counterparts. At the same time, taking the most modern medicine is not always advisable. The patient should use the medication that has the desired effect.

So far, microbes are not resistant to the latest generation of antibiotics. Although in the conditions of hospitals and places of accumulation of various pathogenic microorganisms it is already rumored that there are incredibly resistant strains of staphylococci and streptococci. According to scientists, antibiotic resistance is capable of developing infinitely. This is a global problem, as it is more and more difficult to create effective drugs. Resistance is a feature of living organisms. At the moment, it is impossible to create a medicine to which there will be no addiction.

Why does resistance to different antibiotics develop?

Drugs against bacteria were invented less than 100 years ago. However, the microbes immediately began to develop resistance to antibiotics. Every day antibiotics become less effective. Wrong actions of a person aggravate this process.

Experts identify two types of bacterial resistance: acquired, natural and specific. Acquired resistance occurs during various mutations and gene transfer from one bacterium to another. It is worth noting that a person can contribute to these processes. The natural type is present in bacteria initially. There are microorganisms that are inherently resistant to a particular drug. The specific resistance of bacteria is the so-called innate immunity. This is a complex of factors that determine the susceptibility or immunity to the action of a drug on the body.

The main factors leading to the development of antibiotic resistance are the following:

  • low-quality drinking water
  • unsanitary conditions
  • uncontrolled use of antibiotics, as well as their use on livestock farms for the treatment of animals and young growth

Among the main approaches to deal with antibiotic resistance are the following:

  • Development of new types of antibiotics
  • Modification of chemical structures

Development of completely new drugs acting on microorganisms differently than antibiotics

It is worth noting that today scientists have not yet managed to create the perfect antibiotic. Sooner or later, antibiotic resistance will be developed to any modern medicine. For example, the first of its kind antibiotic penicillin today has extremely low efficacy.

Doctors and scientists face a difficult task, which is to continuously produce antibiotics that are effective against all known microbes. At the moment, antibacterial agents have already changed 4 generations.

The threat of epidemics and financial crisis

epidemic threat

The fight against antibiotic resistance is not yet bearing fruit. New antibiotics rarely enter the market. Due to the failures that scientists are making in search of effective antibacterial drugs, the interest of pharmacological companies to antibiotics is also declining. It is simply not profitable for companies to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in the development and production of a drug, which after a few years may be ineffective. At the same time, health professionals are talking about the impending threat of deadly epidemics. If humanity now does not make efforts to search for new drugs, a lot of people can become victims of infections.

Today, doctors note that the problem of antibiotic resistance seriously affects morbidity and increases mortality. Doctors have to spend more time treating patients using more antibiotics. This entails financial costs. Since this problem is becoming more and more complex every year, experts fear a financial collapse in the medical field. Some clinics use modern technologies to fight antibiotic-resistant forms of bacteria. They build separate enclosures, where the walls are flushed with special disinfecting air flow. However, this technology is extremely expensive, and only very rich clinics can afford it.

In the United States and some European countries, serious research has been conducted regarding the effect of antibiotic-resistant forms on labor productivity. Scientists have found that because of such infectious diseases, the state is losing billions of dollars. Authorities are forced to allocate additional amounts for health care.

In response to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance, the British government asked its scientists to conduct a Review on Antimicrobial Resistance. According to the forecasts of British experts, by 2050, mortality due to antibiotic resistance will be more than 10 million people! The cost of combating this problem will reach 3.5% of global GDP.

Rational use of antibiotics

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development offers ten possible interventions to combat antibiotic resistance. The main among them is a global and massive public awareness campaign. The reason is that the solution to the problem of antibiotic resistance is not only in the hands of farmers, politicians, scientists, and hospitals. The lion’s share of responsibility for our health lies with ourselves, the people. We ask our doctors for medicines that we do not need and do not ask about the composition of meat on our plate.

We must begin to be interested in the fact that very few funds are being invested in the development of new and improved old medicines. We need to take vaccination more seriously because less chance of infection minimizes the use of antibiotics. Knowing the problem of bacterial resistance to antibiotics, we can start an open dialogue with medical professionals and ask them if I really need this treatment. Antibiotics do not cure viral infections (for example, the common cold and the flu). They only affect bacterial infections, so you need to make sure that the infection is treated appropriately.

Antibiotics do not cure everything. Sometimes it just takes time, rest and drinking plenty of fluids. If you have been prescribed a medicine, be sure to complete the entire course of its administration, even if you feel better. Never give the remaining drugs to someone else and do not store them for the future.

Judy Smetzer, vice president of the American Institute for Safe Practice of Drug Treatment, talks about the five basic rules for taking medications, which should also be taken into account when taking antibiotics: the right patient should receive the right medicine at the right time in the right dose and the right way to use it [3].

If you want to play a more active role in the fight against resistant bacteria, you can write to the authorities, urging them to act against the excessive use of antibiotics. This is especially true in the agricultural sector. We must support the development of new drugs for people and animals. We got into this trouble together, and only together can we get out.

Forecasts for the future

Unfortunately, anti-antibiotic resistance predictions are disappointing for now. And, nevertheless, the world scientific and medical community are working tirelessly on solving this problem. As mentioned above, new antibacterial drugs are being developed today and new approaches are being created in the treatment of infectious diseases. However, the majority of developments are still undergoing preclinical studies, and it is too early to talk about their use in medical practice. In addition, the development of new antibiotics alone is not enough. New vaccines against pathogenic strains are needed, improving with sanitary control and hygiene, including in agriculture.

Today, a number of international organizations, such as the EU Initiative for Innovative Drugs, the Global Fund, and others have launched programs to find and introduce new drugs for pathogenic microbes. At the same time, not only scientists and physicians are involved in these programs, but also industry, agriculture and other sectors of the economy. Given such strong concerns and a desire to cope with the problem of bacterial resistance to antibiotics, optimistic expectations remain. Most likely, humanity will be able to avoid the problem, which may occur due to the lack of control over pathogenic microorganisms.

Useful links:

[1] Read about types and methods for determination of bacterial resistance by the link https://bacterialinfections.wordpress.com/2018/03/21/types-of-bacterial-resistance-and-methods-for-its-determination-and-prevention/

[2] What you need to know about antibiotic resistance? Go https://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/antibiotic-resistance and get answer.

[3] Read more https://antibioticfacts.wordpress.com/2018/03/17/how-we-can-stop-antibiotic-resistance/ ,how we can stop antibiotic resistance?

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