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Superbugs evolve and outsmart antibiotics

For years, patients have gone to the doctor demanding antibiotics for a host of health concerns, many of which couldn’t be solved with drugs. It didn’t matter. We were a society of patients who wanted solutions now and couldn’t wait for our body’s natural defense systems to do their work. Now, it seems that the over prescription of antibiotics really has become a real problem with the medical community now claiming that drug-resistant "superbugs" now represent “one of the gravest threats in the history of medicine.”

35 million antibiotics are prescribed each year in England

According to reports, about 35 million antibiotics are prescribed by general practitioners in England every year. But unfortunately, the more the drugs are prescribed and taken, the greater the bacteria’s ability within the body to evolve and resist them.

So why hasn’t the medical community simply created new drugs to combat new superbugs? It may be a matter of expense and profits. A new class of antibiotics has not been created since 1987, and those in the research community claim it is simply that making the drugs is not profitable for business.

Superbugs can make routine operations dangerous

But experts now claim that over prescribing antibiotics could eventually lead to problems even for routine operations. For instance, the more the drugs circulate, the more bacteria are able to evolve to resist them. So what does this mean for American patients? According to government doctors in a special editorial in The Lancet health journal, the advancements in medical technology could be “erased” leading to sickness and even death for routine operations. Some medical experts complain that infections could be one of the gravest threats, even for minor injuries.

What can be done to stop superbugs?

So what has to be done to stop superbugs? There are several steps that can be taken to combat superbugs. The most important one is to limit the over prescription of antibiotics by primary care doctors. This means more and more patients will be sent home from the doctor’s office with nothing more than a pat on the back and advice about getting plenty of rest. This also means hospitals will have to be ever vigilant about maintaining a hygienic facility that does not perpetuate infection. Finally, the pharmaceutical industry may need to be incentivized to create new antibiotics and antibiotic alternatives.

As mentioned above, the most important step is to limit prescription antibiotics, but more than that, the public will have to accept that not every sickness, ache, pain and sore throat needs a pill. It means that patients need to change their expectation about their doctors and what they should and should not do for them. Medical care must move into what is being hailed as the “anti-antibiotic phase” where patients understand that the problem of resistance are more important than getting instant relief, and this change may affect how our entire health systems work. It’s a bitter pill, but one we all must swallow.
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