When medicines do not work

Medical professionals tell Mahfuzul Haque why the arbitrary intake of antibiotics, with or without prescription, can lead to health complications

pe1Antibiotics are mainly used for the treatment or prevention of bacterial infections. Physicians say though antibiotics are needed to cure some severe health complications but for the health conditions that are not serious, the antibiotics should not be taken. The WHO and other health organisations across the world are also trying to reduce the use of antibiotics.
There are many people around us who take antibiotics when faced with any kind of health-related issues and without consulting doctors. Doctors usually prescribe antibiotics to cure patients from severe bacterial infections but its haphazard use can trigger severe problems for public health.
According to the statistics of the World Health Organization (WHO), currently 700,000 people die each year from resistant infections across the globe. The number is set to rise to ten million by 2050, if no action is taken.
According to the WHO, some strains of bacteria have developed resistance to many different types of antibiotics due to overuse. Such antibiotics include Meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Clostridium difficile (C. diff), the bacteria that cause multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) and carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae (CPE).
The WHO fears that these type of infections can be serious and challenging to treat, and are becoming an increasing cause of disability and death across the world.The biggest worry is new strains of bacteria may emerge that cannot be effectively treated by any existing antibiotics.

The misconceptions regarding the use of antibiotics among the general public is worsening the situation. Physicians say that public awareness regarding its use can reduce the antibiotic resistance.
Dr Naushad Ibn Khair, a medicine specialist at the Bangladesh Medical College and Hospital in Dhaka, says that many people take antibiotics as cure from the common cold and flu without consulting the physicians. But it is important to note that antibiotics are only active against bacteria. The common cold and flu are caused by viruses, so antibiotics have no effect to treat such disease, he says. Using more antibiotics means that the number of resistant bacteria will increase.
The WHO recently conducted a survey on the use of antibiotics in 12 countries where majority respondents incorrectly believe that viruses such as colds and flu (64 per cent) can be treated with antibiotics. Nearly 70 per cent of the 1,002 South African respondents shared this misconception, which often translates into pressure put on doctors and nurses by patients to prescribe an antibiotic when they feel ill.
Many patients also stop taking antibiotics when they feel better. Dr Naushad says that if a patient is taking antibiotics to treat bacterial infection, then the patient should take the full course as it is prescribed. If the patient stops taking antibiotics while not following the physicians’ prescription, then the bacteria will replicate, he says. ‘The patient should complete the course and not stop if he/she feels better in the middle,’ he says.
The physician also says that the patients should not take leftovers of the antibiotics. In many cases, it is seen that patients start taking the leftovers when they feel ill. It is dangerous because there are antibiotics for disparate bacterial infection; if these are taken haphazardly, then it may cause severe health crisis, Dr Naushad says. Moreover, if the leftovers are expired, the active ingredients of the antibiotics may be impaired.
Physicians also say that there are misconceptions among people that antibiotic resistance only grows when it is taken repeatedly. But a single course if taken incorrectly can also cause antibiotic resistance.
Physicians say that human body has an immune system that can fight most bacteria and viruses over time. So the patients should not take antibiotics as soon as they face some malady.
‘Let the body first fight against the disease.If the disease gets acute, then the patients should consult the doctor and take medication as is prescribed. Taking antibiotics haphazardly means inviting more severe health complications,’ Dr Naushad says.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *