What is Antibiotic Resistance?
Antibiotic resistance refers to microbial aversion to antimicrobial drugs developed with the original intent of combating specific germs, bacteria, and fungi. During such instances, prescribed antibiotic medications are seemingly unable to kill or eliminate harmful microbes targeted. Today, antibiotic resistance is associated with an unprecedented increase in the emergence and spread of resistant infections, posing an immediate public health concern globally. According to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), antibiotic resistance is among one of the most concerning public health concerns facing the American public today given that it kills, at least, 1.29 million annually. Concern over the pervasiveness of antibiotic resistance is also driven by the fact that cases of mortality directly attributed to antibiotic resistance keep on rising each year hence the need for a decisive and resounding response.
Antimicrobial resistance is a resistance is a relatively new phenomenon given that this response was not typical of bacteria and fungi during treatment with antibiotics. This, therefore, poses a serious health risk to individuals in different stages in life and across different demographics since it is among one of the most problematic public health challenges one may attempt to solve. Dangerous antibiotic resistance is now associated with a growing need for second- and third-line pharmacological interventions during treatment which may have adverse effects such as organ failure and extended hospital stays. Antibiotic resistance is also a major source of concerns for medical practitioners given that antibiotics are a major mode of treatment recommended in fighting infections (Bennett, 2018). This eventually means that clinical experts run out of viable treatment options for their patients, further impacting their outcomes. Moreover, common medical procedures such as cancer therapy, surgery, and treatment for chronic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes often require antibiotic therapy, thus posing a direct threat to patient’s recovery.
Causes of Antibiotic Resistance
The link between Microbial Evolution and Antibiotic Resistance
Scientists and medical experts have long been at the forefront of efforts geared towards identifying the specific forces behind antibiotic resistance. At the present moment, the consensus by experts on this matter is that antibiotic resistance is caused primarily by the evolution of microbes over an extended period of time. Changes accompanying this evolution are then responsible for the microbes’ ability to thrive within a harsh environment while still functioning efficiently coupled with rapid reproduction. Antibiotic resistance, therefore, transforms the basic structure of microbes; prompting them to adapt to significant changes within their immediate environment and the ability to spread more rapidly than before. Additionally, this is compounded further by the actual presence of an antimicrobial gene within the microbes that are then passed on to their progeny leading to a cycle of resistance and a new-found ability to survive antibiotic treatments. Drug-resistant microbes are hardy and able to reproduce even in the most extreme of environments which eventually improves their ability to build colonies while continuing their spread.
Mutation and Inappropriate Drug Use
Today, microbial gene mutation and the inappropriate use of prescribed medications are typically cited as some of the most typical reasons explaining the prevalence of antibiotic resistance. Microbial gene mutation is commonly attributed to the high rate of cell division witnessed among these organisms which ultimately improves their overall ability to evolve and reproduce within the context of challenging environments. These changes are often said to improve the overall manner in which they react once exposed to antimicrobial agents and their ability to survive such an attack. Mutation and a high rate of multiplication are also directly related, making it quite difficult for antibiotic treatments to work given that the bacteria in question are now able to survive and thrive in all types of environments. Mutation is also associated with the microbial gene transfer of these genes among related sub-types and genus of bacteria, causing the formation of drug-resistant DNA among emerging progeny. The inappropriate use of antibiotics is also widely thought to be a major reason behind the prevalence of antibiotic resistance while exacerbating bacterial and viral infection.
Preventing Antibiotic Resistance in my Community
Although antibiotic resistance is today viewed as an existential public health concern, the good news is that healthcare workers can play a leading role in preventing the spread and permeation of this phenomenon within their respective communities. Such efforts should always be grounded in science and evidence based practices (EBP) to ensure that each of the frameworks implemented prevent germs, bacteria, and viruses from developing impregnable defenses. The following are some strategies I would employ to prevent antibiotic resistance in my community:
Basic hygiene is an effective tool to employ when attempting to prevent antibiotic resistance. This is mainly due to the overabundance of germs, bacteria, and virus on our bodies at any given time. Hand-washing, therefore, creates a preventative system where harmful microbes are removed from our external bodies, hindering their spread while fighting them simultaneously.
Knowing the telltale Symptoms Associated with Antibiotic Resistance
Individual knowledge of the signs associated with antibiotic resistance is also quite effective in preventing microbial evolution and mutation. Patients should always remain cognizant of the supposed effects of the medications prescribed which allows them to recognize early symptoms of antibiotic resistance (Hawser, 2012). It is, therefore, critical to raise awareness within a community to improve the public’s awareness of scenarios where infection seem to not get better and this being a cue for consulting a healthcare professional.
Asking Relevant Questions on Drug use
Patients are also obligated to pose relevant questions to their primary healthcare provider regarding antibiotic use and factors likely to predispose them to antibiotic resistance. According to Wilson (2019), this process should always begin with a candid doctor-patient discussion regarding the antibiotics prescribed, dosage frequency, and any possible side effect. This process aims at ensuring that patients are empowered on the appropriate use of prescribed medications in order to facilitate safe intake, the prevention of further infections, and improving patient outcomes.
Diligence and Responsibility when Prescribing Antibiotic Therapy To prevent Antibiotic Resistance
Healthcare providers have the fundamental duty of promoting diligence and responsibility when prescribing antibiotic therapy as one of the most efficient frameworks to implement in preventing antibiotic resistance. This is a major element of antibiotic stewardship and should always be put under constant consideration in strict adherence to general CDC protocols and measures recommended by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS. Clinicians should always demonstrate concerted efforts geared towards measuring and quantifying the use of prescribed medications while actively monitoring patients’ adherence to associated regimen (Klein, 2016). Such efforts are directly associated with an attempt to improve antibiotic prescribing while actively combating the unnecessary use of antibiotics by vulnerable cross-sections of the general population. Antibiotic stewardship should also include the active training, re-training, and initiating capacity-building initiatives among clinical staff to ensure they are fully capable of providing the highest quality of care and advice to patients in need based on existing CDC and HHS guidelines.