Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Antibiotic Resistance? Whats the big deal about Superbug?

Imagine yourself as a soldier who just started his/her military training. You have to wake up early. Then you go for a morning run of up to 16-20 kilometers. Then you are grilled in parade ground with a 10+ kg rifle held over head. In the afternoon session, you are made to crawl through the muddy terrain. In the evening you are you have to complete an Obstacle training within the given time frame.

Be it summer, winter or monsoon, you got to do it, period.

What happens as a result of such grueling training? You become stronger,robust & develop the ability to adopt to the changing circumstances.

This is exactly what is happening to viruses due over and unnecessary use of antibiotics. antibiotics have trained the organisms become "Superbugs" and now they have become so powerful that small infections are becoming fatal.

We Indians have a special infatuation with Antibiotics. Whenever anyone falls ill, all he/she needs is a magic pill (read antibiotics) to get an instant cure. The second equally harmful habit is to stop medication as soon as one starts feeling better. 

Physicians, especially, are fond of prescribing antibiotics even for the health conditions where the antibiotics are not effective. Eg. common cough & cold

Now these are the two habits which are pushing us towards developing an antibiotic resistance.

To make matters worse, it is not something that will happen in distant future. It is happening right here and right now.

The growing problem of Antibiotic Resistance

  1. Amount of doses prescribed have increased. When I was a kid, 50 mg tablet would have been enough to treat my infections. But now, nothing less than 500 mg or 1 gram is prescribed at OPD level.

  2. In case of critically ill patients in ICU, average doses of antibiotics are somewhere between 5 to 10 grams per day.

  3. Number of physicians/doctors have resorted to prescribing Steroids to control the disease and infections.

  4. Development of new antibiotics is not keeping pace with the development of new diseases and discovery of new antibiotic resistant bacteria.

  5. No matter how carefully we take antibiotics, at best, we can only slow down the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria. They will eventually grow resistant to it anyway.

  6. Irony of the situation, "We are looking for newer antibiotics to treat the antibiotic resistant bacteria"

So what can be do to fight this menace of drug resistance? Read Dealing with antibiotic resistance