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Antibiotics: Helpful or Hurtful?

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Angela Prvulovic

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It is important to inform yourself and other about antibiotic resistance.

It is important to inform yourself and other about antibiotic resistance.

Photo by Angela Prvulovic Courtesy of media.licdn.com

Photo by Angela Prvulovic Courtesy of media.licdn.com

It is important to inform yourself and other about antibiotic resistance.

It’s that time of season where it seems every corner you turn, you are surrounded by colds and flus. The discovery of antibiotics revolutionized the medical field in 1928. Ever since then, modern medicine has been highly dependent on antibiotics. Antibiotics are a highly controversial topic, and although they’re extremely useful and beneficial, they do pose extremely harmful side effects if overused or improperly administered.

It is important to learn how to recognize the symptoms and learn how to prevent antibiotic resistance.

Many patients end up going to emergency rooms or urgent care after symptoms of cold or flu. Once arrived, they are often given antibiotics because it is an “easy fix.” However, this easy fix has serious consequences. According to MedShadow.org, 50 percent of people in emergency rooms are incorrectly prescribed antibiotics.

In many cases, antibiotics are prescribed when they are not necessary. As a result, bacteria can adapt and become resistant causing many diseases to become untreatable.

So how can we solve this?

The first step in stopping the spread of antibiotic resistance is to learn about the side effects. Evaluate your current situation to determine if you really need a prescription. A rule of thumb is “a cough or a sneeze, no antibiotics please.” In most cases antibiotics are unnecessary.

Viral infections such as the flu or cold are caused by a virus, and antibiotics sadly do not treat viruses. However, if your symptoms last for more than two weeks, you may need antibiotics.

Many think that patients become resistant to antibiotics, but actually it is that bacteria that the patient is infected with, not patients themselves.

Antibiotic resistance starts when the bacteria are treated incorrectly, the antibiotics are effective at killing the bacteria causing the issue and the “good” bacteria that protect your body.  As a result a small portion of the bacteria is allowed to grow and becomes immune to treatment. After the bacteria adapt to resist treatment, they can pass on their resistance to other bacteria.

Bacteria that are able to adapt faster than modern medicine can create a medication to treat them. Medications take years to be developed and approved until they are released for public use. At least 4 years are spent designing clinical trials, and conducting clinical research. Later, the FDA reviews the medication before deciding whether to approve it or not. If the drug is approved it is still monitored up to several years after release. Inspections are conducted in manufacturing companies and labels are reviewed.

Antibiotic resistance is one of the most threatening health issues facing us today. Four out of five patients are treated with antibiotics each year, most of these prescriptions are harmful instead of helpful.

It is important to distinguish when antibiotics are needed and when they are not. This is an extremely important step in stopping resistance.

Taking antibiotics makes bacteria more and more likely to develop antibiotic resistance.

Collectively if everyone would be more careful when taking or prescribing antibiotics we could possibly solve this globally pressing issue.

Stay healthy!

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Sage Creek High School
Antibiotics: Helpful or Hurtful?