When we’re feeling unwell, many of us turn to antibiotics as the solution to our misery. It seems like the best way to rid yourself of the nasty bug, plus your doctor prescribed them to help you. However, new research suggests we should think twice before doing this.
Apparently antibiotic-resistant superbugs are on the rise because of society’s high usage rates of antibiotics. The more drugs we ingest, the more likely we will have superbugs later on. Superbugs continue to rise and the number of new treatments for them is becoming more difficult for researchers to discover and develop. This is causing concern for a return to the pre-antibiotic era where simple infections cause death.
It is important to note that antibiotics do have a purpose and can prevent serious harm and stop infections. For instance, they help prevent lung infections like bacterial pneumonia, eye infections like conjunctivitis or various ear, nose and throat infections. Many antibiotics are amazing drugs that have helped many of us in times of absolute necessity, such as when we experience severe or persistent symptoms.
The problem does not lie in those severe cases but rather when there is uncertainty in the diagnosis. When the doctors doesn’t know exactly what type of bug is causing the infection a broad-spectrum antibiotic is used. It’s like a grenade approach to killing the bacteria compared to a sniper approach against the superbug. Unfortunately, research has found that using this grenade approach is detrimental to our long-term wellbeing. The antibiotics cause collateral damage since they kill a lot of good bacteria, such as those that help us digest food. In fact, some antibiotics end up causing other problems like diarrhea, thrush or other nasty infections.
Moreover, a recent Danish study tracked over one million people and found an association between antibiotic usage frequency and Type II diabetes. They found that people who received more than four doses of antibiotic drugs over 15 years were 53 per cent more likely to develop diabetes. Of course there are other variables that must be considered, some people were already heading towards the disease and/or are more prone to infection, however, the study definitely deserves attention. It doesn’t suggest causality but it does articulate the association between antibiotics and diabetes.
Overall, many antibiotics do save lives and help to kill serious infections but are they always the solution? These results highlight the need to think twice before taking them as they can do more harm than good in the long term. Fortunately, there is a new ‘prize‘ that has gained attention. It is called the Longitude Prize which is a challenge to help solve the global antibiotic resistance. The goal is to develop a point of care test kit to target bacterial infections so we won’t need to use the blanket-approach. Doctors will be able to diagnose the right drug, the first time.
Tell us, are you wary of taking antibiotics? What do you think of this new information?