Antibiotic resistance is a public health issue that occurs globally and keeps growing. Antibiotic resistance develops when certain bacterial strains in the human body begin to begin to become unresponsive to antibiotics. Bacteria may become resistant because of misuse or abuse of antibiotics.

Each day, approximately 190 million doses of antibiotics are administered in hospitals; as for non-hospitalized patients, doctors are prescribing over 133 million courses of antibiotics every year. It’s believed that half of those prescriptions to non-hospitalized patients are not necessary, considering that most of them are being given to treat cough, colds and other viral infections – a habit that can increase antibiotic resistance.

Common causes of antibiotic resistance

Most patients go to see their physician either expecting or asking to be prescribed antibiotics when they don’t feel good or have regular cold symptoms, but it’s important that patients understand that antibiotics are meant to treat infections caused by bacteria, not infections caused by viruses. Most of the time, colds are viral infections, so antibiotics shouldn’t be necessary.

There’s one way to be sure if a cold or other disease is being caused by bacterial infection and if treatment should include antibiotics. For example, if a patient has a sore throat, the doctor must do a throat culture test to look for signs of bacterial infection and, if that’s the case, then it makes sense to prescribe antibiotics to cure the infection. Without a test there are no alternative certain ways to find out if the infection is bacterial or not.

Inaccurate use and abuse of antibiotics has resulted in increasing antibiotic resistant. The most frequent misuses of antibiotics include antibiotics being prescribed to treat viral infections and people not finishing the entire prescription of the antibiotic – when people don’t take the all dose some bacteria are left alive and become resistant to further antibiotic treatments, keep in mind that even one or two pills left can lead to that.

Ways to prevent antibiotic resistance

In the road to prevention of antibiotic resistance, both doctors and patients must act in order to diminish the misuse and abuse of antibiotics. The prescription of antibiotic should not take place without taking an adequate test, like a throat culture, to prove that bacteria are causing the infection. If it’s a virus, it’s worthless to prescribe or take antibiotics as they do not act on viral infections. Yet, some patients request antibiotics prescriptions from their doctors even when it’s known that are not necessary. Having antibiotics to treat viral infection is a waste of time and money with another downside: it contributes to the development of antibiotic resistance.

Patients can ask their physicians if the source of their infection is bacterial or viral as well as asking to be informed about the tests taken to find out. On the other hand, doctors should also adjust their own procedures before prescribing antibiotics by only prescribing them in cases of bacterial infections.