Flowing nose, constant sneezing, cough, headache and mild chills are extremely irritating and test our temper. The most convenient and quick way to get rid of it: gulping an antibiotic pill down your throat. Isn’t it? NO! Wait! Now that isn’t going to help either. The bacteria that attack our body have emerged as ‘superbugs’ and become resistant to antibiotics.
Let’s try to understand what ‘Superbugs’ are:
Superbugs are bacteria that are strong and resistant to a majority of antibiotics that we casually use to treat even the most minor illnesses and infections. Since doctors and patients both prefer prescribing and consuming antibiotics, the bacteria have become immune to them and have adapted to the chemicals used in making the medicine. Due to excessive consumption, antibiotics have stopped showing favourable results and have in fact proved to worsen the health condition of a person suffering from a bacterial infection.
When antibiotics are consumed unnecessarily, they surely destroy large numbers of bacteria which also includes good bacteria that the body requires. Good bacteria helps in digesting the food, fighting infections and to stay healthy. Moreover, the viruses that are strong enough and resistant to the antibiotics also multiply faster, further degrading the health. If you don’t bring the level of antibiotic consumption way down, these superbugs also pass their medicine-resistant trait to other bacteria as well.
Indian Obsession With Antibiotics:
We Indians have been brought up with this belief that one antibiotic is the ideal treatment for a common illness. Whenever we fall sick and seek doctor’s treatment, he/she too prescribes a dose of antibiotic pills. If at rare times, the doctor doesn’t prescribe any pill, we willingly ask him to. That’s how addicted we are to these antibiotics. “Rather than a treatment, consumption of antibiotics is more like a therapy for us”, says Dr. Rahul Tambe, Sr Consultant – Internal Medicine (Nanavati Super Speciality Hospital). “If I tell my patients that they don’t require an antibiotic, they don’t believe me”, jokes Dr. Tambe.
He also points out to a habit of Indians of leaving a particular treatment incomplete. When a doctor prescribes a 5-day dosage of antibiotic, we are most likely to discontinue on the second or third day itself because we start feeling better. However, we go back to the doctor complaining of infection/fever relapse. This happens because when you discontinue taking the pills, the superbugs only hibernate, but don’t get killed.
Dr. Tambe states that humans will never be able to destroy superbugs forever no matter how much science and technology progresses, however humans can definitely take smart and well-planned steps to protect themselves from these superbugs. He adds that completely banning antibiotics isn’t possible too but restricting its usage is. He suggests, only and only if a person needs antibiotics on an urgent basis, should he/she use it.
Antibiotics are used across the world to fight bacteria that cause influenza, sore throat, ear infection, skin infection, gastroenteritis, pneumonia, diarrhoea, and other such infections. If we want antibiotics to help us, we must use them judiciously, advises Dr. Tambe.
What must we do to protect ourselves from such superbugs if not use antibiotics?
- Stay hygienic
- Drink filtered water
- Cover your nose when you sneeze (the major way in which hazardous infections are spread from one person to other)
- Cover your mouth while coughing
- Avoid eating outside food
- Wash your hands before and after eating food at least for a minute (soap takes times to kill the bacteria)
- Wash your hands, face and feet when you return home from outside with warm water and soap
- Don’t leave food in the open air. Cover vessels and containers filled with food properly.
- Don’t use your phone while eating food (it’s the biggest source of infections)
Your good health is your responsibility and taking care of it starts with you. If you lead a hygienic lifestyle, your need for antibiotics will reduce.