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  • by Dr Soryia Siddique, PhD
 

Bacteria can be found virtually everywhere, including air, soil, water, plants, animals and human beings.

We have relied for decades on antibiotics. Antibiotics are important medicines used to treat infections caused by bacteria.

The pharmaceutical industry can prepare antibiotics as liquids, tablets or capsules.

When a more serious case is presented, antibiotics can be given as an injection intravenously (directly into the blood) or intramuscularly (into the muscles).

Intravenous antibiotics are usually required to treat more serious bacterial infections including (meningitis), septicaemia (blood poisoning) and infection of the outer layer of the heart (endocarditis). Intravenous injections are fast acting and controllable.

Intravenous antibiotic route is preferred when the patient is suffering from vomiting, is nil by mouth, suffering severe diarrhoea, swallowing disorder or unconscious.

Sometimes intravenous administration can cause complications and requires monitoring.

Bacteria are living cells able to multiply rapidly in optimum conditions. Bacteria are known to change and find ways to survive the effects of an antibiotic.

They become ‘antibiotic resistant’; this can mean that the antibiotic no longer works. Some bacteria that cause infections in hospitals are resistant to several antibiotics.

There is speculation that simple surgeries that rely on the use of antibiotics will become impossible due to antibiotic resistance.

If this is magnified at a molecular level these tiny organisms are finding ways to outsmart the drugs designed to kill them.

They can be described as ‘superbugs’ — they don’t just survive but they are known to thrive.

Resistant bacteria can spread from farms, hospitals, water supply and through direct contact.

It has been recognised that unnecessary prescribing of antibiotics needs to stop; a published study indicated the number of patients given drugs for minor ailments has increased over the years.

Researchers found that, in 2011, 51% of patients were given antibiotics for coughs and colds, up from 36% in 1999.

Public Health epidemiologist Professor Jeremy Hawker said: “Although it would be inappropriate to say that all cases of coughs and colds or sore throats did not need antibiotics, our study strongly suggests that there is a need to make improvements in antibiotic prescribing.”

The NHS advises: “Use antibiotics only when it’s appropriate to do so.

“When they are prescribed, the complete course should be taken in order to get rid of the bacteria completely. If the course isn’t completed some bacteria may be left, and they may develop resistance.”

 

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