When we get sick, we tend to believe antibiotics are the cure. For decades, they have successfully been used to fight bacterial diseases such as pneumonia and strep throat. But when it comes to virus-based illnesses, antibiotics are completely useless. And as a result of years of misuse and overuse, bacteria have built resistance to the same drugs that once reliably defeated them – leading to antibiotic resistance.
Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria develop the ability to defeat the drugs designed to destroy them, resulting in less effective antibiotics or fewer antibiotic options when we do face serious infection. An estimated 700,000 people worldwide die annually from drug-resistant strains of bacterial infections. And unless action is taken, experts warn that by 2050, the annual death rate will soar to 10 million people worldwide – one of the largest global health threats in existence according to the World Health Organization.
So what can you do to help against antibiotic resistance? Individuals have an important role to combat this health crisis by using antibiotics responsibly. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when it comes to antibiotics:
To guarantee antibiotics continue to do their job for a long time to come, both patients and providers must ensure the right antibiotic, at the right dose, for the right length of time. Each time you unnecessarily take antibiotics, the effectiveness of the drug decreases and it may not work the next time you really need it. So when you’re feeling sick, talk with your doctor or healthcare provider before assuming antibiotics are the answer. Learn more at the BC Center for Disease Control.
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