Have you ever bought medicines without a prescription? Or popped a pill to get instant relief from cold and cough? Have you noticed how the duration of your ailment is taking longer to heal? If you find yourself silently nodding to these questions you might be neck-deep in trouble.
India’s consumption of antibiotics has more than doubled from 2000 to 2015. The pills you take for a minor ailment can do you more harm in the longer run, read on to know.
All about Antibiotic Resistance
Introduced in the 1940s, antibiotics are our go-to medicines for bacterial infections. They work like any other antimicrobial agents by targeting a variety of micro-organisms. These “magic pills” specifically target bacteria, while leaving the host unharmed. It may seem all good, however, prolonged use and abuse of antibiotics can prove to be fatal.
Bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites often develop resistance to medicines. In simple terms, once these micro-organisms develop ways to outshine the drugs, these agents can no longer treat infections caused by them. Bacteria, in particular, have acquired resistance to antibiotics so much so that some pathogens are resistant to all antibiotic classes. Infections caused by these bacteria may lead to costlier treatment, longer hospital stay and higher chances of death.
Causes of Antibiotic Resistance
- Self-Medication stands as the leading cause of antibiotic resistance. When you take these drugs without a prescription you don’t know the exact dose needed for a particular ailment. Similarly, you might end up not taking the full course. This triggers the microbes to build resistance to the drugs.
- Most people misuse/overuse antibiotics even when they are not required. What’s worse is the fact that patients do not follow their doctor’s instructions to complete its course. Most people stop taking the medicine abruptly as soon as they feel a little better.
- Places crowded with humans and animals are a thriving ground for germs. In such places, bacteria circulate through food, water and the environment itself.
- In addition to overcrowding, poor hygiene and sanitary conditions cause the spread of such deadly micro-organisms.
- Bacterial infections can also be acquired from hospital visits via staff, linen, medical tools, etc.
- Lack of awareness- hygiene and medication- is prevalent in most Indian households which cause the rampant spread of antibiotic resistance.
- Overuse of antibiotics by poultry and livestock industry.
Antibiotic Resistance in India
Although it can be termed as a global threat, the state of antibiotic resistance in India is quite alarming, thanks to the misuse of antibiotics. The total use of antibiotics in India more than doubled between 2000 and 2015. This makes us the world’s largest consumer of antibiotics with the pre-eminent threat of antibiotic resistance.
Furthermore, Indians are at a greater risk owing to poor public health infrastructure, rampant diseases and unregulated sales of antibiotics. In such a scenario, for some, the last line of defence does not exist.
Who is at risk?
- Patients suffering from pneumonia, tuberculosis, gonorrhoea, and salmonellosis are at risk because these infections are becoming more and more difficult to treat.
- Babies in countries with high infant mortality rate.
- Patients with last stage kidney or liver disease who need to visit hospitals frequently.
- Since antibiotics are used in everything- surgeries to chemotherapy, all those taking these magic pills are at risk.
What we can do to combat Antibiotic Resistance?
A lot is being done in the health care industry and the agriculture sector to combat antibiotic resistance, however, these measures will be of no use if we lack the basic awareness about it. In order to overcome this menace, here’s what we can do:
- Only use antibiotics if prescribed.
- Don’t stop the antibiotics abruptly before completing the course given by the doctor.
- Pay attention to hygiene and proper sanitation.
- Consume organic foods produced without the use of antibiotics and prepare it hygienically.
- Try to avoid contact with sick people and keep vaccinations up to date.
Antibiotic resistance has become rampant but the situation is stark in India. If we don’t take it seriously now, we will surely return back to the time when minor injuries and infections can kill us despite having medicines at our disposal!