All about Antibiotic

Dr. Sartaj Hussain
Knowing how to handle antibiotics responsibly is essential in a world where bacteria are constantly evolving and adapting. Although antibiotics are effective weapons in the fight against bacterial diseases, improper usage of them can have catastrophic consequences including antibiotic resistance. To understand the scale of the situation, we need to first look into the true nature of antibiotics, how they work, and what happens when bacteria acquire resistance to them. We need to be aware of the responsible use of these life-saving medications, the global effects of antibiotic resistance, and the preventative steps we can take to stop its development. Responsible antibiotic usage is not just a medical necessity, but also a collective responsibility to ensure the efficacy of these critical treatments for future generations.
What are antibiotics and how do they work?
Antibiotics are medicines that are used to treat bacterial infections. They work by either killing or preventing the growth of bacteria. Antibiotics work in a variety of ways, but in general, they interfere with critical bacterial functions such as cell wall formation, protein synthesis, and DNA replication. Antibiotics successfully kill the germs causing the infection by inhibiting these processes, allowing the body to heal.
What is the rational use of antibiotics?
The rational use of antibiotics refers to the appropriate and responsible use of these medications to treat bacterial infections while minimizing the development of antibiotic resistance. Viral infections cannot be treated with antibiotics; only bacterial infections can. The right antibiotic must be used with the proper delivery method, dosage, frequency, and duration. However, prescribing antibiotics irrationally does not mean just taking the incorrect medication. It also includes the equally nonsensical practice of using the proper antibiotic with the improper dose, duration, frequency, or method. Before administering antibiotics, medical personnel must correctly identify the infection’s underlying cause in order to ensure that the drugs will be used as intended. The particular bacteria causing the infection and how susceptible they are to the selected antibiotic should be taken into consideration when choosing an antibiotic. Before prescribing antibiotics, the bacteria should be cultured and tested to assist choose the most suitable drug. The selection of an antibiotic should take into account the location and severity of the infection, the patient’s age, any allergies, and the local patterns of bacterial resistance. When using antibiotics, it is best to use narrow-spectrum medications that focus on a small number of bacteria in order to limit the disruption of the natural flora and lower the likelihood of resistance. Prescriptions for antibiotics should be written for the recommended duration and dosage. Underdosing or abruptly quitting the medication can result in treatment failure and encourage the emergence of resistance.
What is antibiotic resistance?
The ability of bacteria to withstand the effects of antibiotics that were once efficient in treating infections caused by them is referred to as antibiotic resistance. Some bacteria may develop genetic alterations or resistance genes as a result of antibiotic exposure, allowing them to thrive and proliferate even in the presence of the medication. The prevalence and spread of these resistant bacteria over time might make it challenging or even impossible to treat infections brought on by them using regularly prescribed antibiotics. Antibiotic resistance is a global health concern because it makes it difficult to treat bacterial infections efficiently and increases the risk of complications and mortality.
What will be the consequences of antibiotic resistance?
Antibiotic resistance can have serious and far-reaching effects. Infections caused by antibiotic resistance bacteria might be difficult to cure. The range of possible alternatives for efficient therapy is constrained when bacteria develop resistance to various antibiotics. This may lead to more serious sickness, a higher risk of complications, and higher medical expenses. Increased rates of disease, complications, and fatalities can be attributed to antibiotic resistance. Patients may experience worse results as a result of infections brought on by resistant bacteria because they may be more severe and less responsive to available therapies. In healthcare facilities, local communities, and even the world at large, resistant germs can spread quickly. It may become more difficult to stop the spread of disease if this results in outbreaks or epidemics of infections that are resistant to antibiotics. The efficacy of frequently used antibiotics declines as antibiotic resistance increases. Longer hospital stays, specialist care, and pricy medications are frequently necessary for the treatment of resistant illnesses. Budgets for healthcare are strained, and this may have wider economic effects. Various medical procedures, including operations, chemotherapy, and organ transplants, depend heavily on antibiotics. These procedures may become riskier or perhaps impossible to conduct if antibiotic resistance spreads because infections are more likely.
How to take antibiotics responsibly?
Taking antibiotics responsibly is important to ensure their effectiveness and minimize the development of antibiotic resistance. Not viral diseases like the common cold or flu, but rather bacterial infections, are treated with antibiotics. Consult a medical expert who can assess whether you have a bacterial infection that needs antibiotics before taking them. Follow your doctor’s prescription for antibiotics precisely. Even if you begin to feel better before the end of the therapy, finish the entire course. Stopping too soon can increase the chance of antibiotic resistance and result in only partial clearance of the infection. Since each patient’s condition is different, taking someone else’s antibiotics may be hazardous or useless. Always speak with a medical practitioner if you think you might require antibiotics. Do not utilize any antibiotics that you may still have on hand from a previous prescription without first talking to a doctor. Inform your healthcare practitioner right away if you develop any side effects while taking antibiotics. They can assess your symptoms and, if necessary, modify your treatment. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water to practice good hand hygiene, especially before eating and after using the restroom. This lessens the need for medicines and helps to stop the spread of bacteria. Antibiotics might not always be the best course of treatment. Discuss alternative therapies with your healthcare practitioner, such as symptom management, supportive care, or different drugs that might be better suitable.
Always use antibiotics responsibly to ensure their continued efficacy for future generations. Before using any medication, consult a healthcare expert at all times.
(The author is Assistant Professor Department of Pharmacology All India Institute of Medical Science Vijaypur, Jammu)