Overuse of Antibiotics: Here’s How to Protect Yourself
Nearly 3 million Americans get sick from drug-resistant infections, and 35,000 die every year, according to a new Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention report on Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States released this week. That’s, on average, one person dying every 15 minutes from infections that antibiotics can no longer effectively treat. Although the numbers are grim, there is a silver lining. We have a better understanding of the scope of this problem and can push for full scale solutions.
A world without effective antibiotics would set modern medicine back by decades. Surgical procedures, chemotherapy, and even childbirth would be much more dangerous. Anything from scraping your knee to nicking yourself gardening could be fatal, if infection set in.
In the Detroit area, patients across all demographics are getting antibiotic-resistant infections. Kids with weakened immune systems, such as premature babies and pediatric cancer patients, are especially vulnerable. Michigan’s physicians are increasingly prescribing last-line antibiotics with toxic side effects because conventional antibiotics no longer work. How did we get here? The biggest contributing factor to antibiotic resistance is overuse, which kills off weak bacteria while the strong ones survive, multiply, and spread. If one of these “superbugs” infects you, you could be in real trouble. That’s the case in any setting that uses antibiotics, whether it’s a hospital or an industrial farm. To reverse this dangerous trend and keep antibiotics effective in the future, every stakeholder needs to take action. In human healthcare, for example, physicians and patients both play an important role in reducing antibiotic use.