Antimicrobial Resistance

9 Feb 2023

In my recent studies I had come across the topic that has in the last 20 or so years become a more prominent global which is none other than Antimicrobial resistance.

What is it?

To put it into simple terms, it is the resistance that bacteria can gain to certain antibiotic treatments overtime.
it is the development that is caused by a disease inducing microbe from mutation or genetic transfer which can adapt to survive antimicrobial agents that were once an effective treatment.

How does this happen?

It can happen through quite a few ways but one of the main ways is through the misuse of medication. When diagnosed with a bacterial infection that is severe enough, people will be prescribed antibiotics. These antibiotics have quite specific instructions, but the main one is to always make sure to finish the fully prescribed amount. What will happen if you don't finish off the amount sometimes is that the antibiotics did not kill off enough bacteria for your body to fight off the rest of the bacteria. When this happens, the bad bacteria that survived naturally gain a resistance to the treatment and begin to grow back again in an even stronger form. This means that the once prescribed antibiotics may not be effective anymore and a stronger antibiotic will need to be used.
The same kind of problem can happen if you use too many antibiotics. If antibiotics are taken too often or for the wrong reasons, it can cause the bacteria to change such that the antibiotics don't work against them.

Why is this a problem?

The main reason that this is a giant problem is because the rate at which antimicrobial resistance is becoming stronger is much greater than our ability to deal with it. For starters, there has not been any new developments in antibiotics since the 1980s due to funding reasons primarily. If we were somehow able to get funding to kick start research and build the appropriate facilities with the equipment, we would still be racing against the bacterial mutations. Us as humans still have other global issues to put time and resources into, whilst antimicrobial resistance will slowly but surely over time become stronger and more difficult to handle. At some point we will reach a point where development of new treatments will become too impossible to have enough funding focus for and even if we do reach a point where we think we have beaten antimicrobial resistance, all it takes is for a couple of mutated bacteria cells in hosts for it to spread and become an issue to be resolved again.
I haven't even delved into whatever possibility there is that we may not have the technology or the theoretical solutions to combat antimicrobial resistance if it gets to the highest levels, but I will leave that out of the conversation for now.

What can we do?

Honestly, there is not much we can do, it is up to the scientists and richer organisations to be able to start up and facilitate research to begin resolving these issues and coming up with appropriate and up to date treatments. As individuals, what we can do the least is practice safe antibiotic usage. Being:

  • Only use antibiotics when prescribed
  • Complete the prescribed amount given
  • Consume at the instructed rate
  • Ask your doctors for any related questions about consumption of these treatments

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