Antibiotics are a keystone of modern medicine. They have rendered once dangerous diseases obsolete. However, they are being overused, prescribed even when the need for them may be questionable. This leads to bacteria developing resistance to antibiotics. Here are five things that are happening as a result of antibiotic overuse.
Antibiotics have been tied to more cases of fatal diarrhea in children.
Studies have shown that children who have been given antibiotics for respiratory infections are more susceptible to infections by the Clostridium difficile bacteria, commonly known as C diff. This bacterium is antibiotic resistant.
Antibiotics are misused in this case because the respiratory infections are related to the common cold virus, and as such, are immune to any effects of antibiotics. When the antibiotics are used, they kill off many of the bacteria that keep C diff from proliferating, thus allowing the C diff to increase to toxic proportions. If unchecked, C diff can cause severe diarrhea and is responsible for about 14,000 deaths among adults and children each year.
Antibiotics can throw the normal proportions of bacteria in your intestine out of whack.
Your gut is home to hundreds of different strains of bacteria, most of which are beneficial, aiding in digestion, for example. But if antibiotics are overused, they can kill many of these bacteria, leaving the harmful bacteria that are antibiotic resistant, such as C diff.
Antibiotic overuse can actually create more harmful bacteria.
As antibiotics are used more often, some bacteria develop a resistance to the drugs. What then happens is these resistant bacteria can pass their genes to other nonresistant bacteria, thus making them antibiotic resistant as well.
Antibiotic overuse is leading to more cases of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea.
A certain strain of bacteria that causes gonorrhea has developed a resistance to antibiotics because of their overuse.
Antibiotic overuse is leading to more expensive drugs and hospital stays.
As more bacteria become resistant to conventional antibiotics, many of these drugs can no longer be used. As a result, infected patients have to undergo longer and more expensive types of therapy.
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