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What Does Antimicrobial Resistance Mean?

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Antimicrobial resistance refers to the ability of micro-organisms to resist the effects of antimicrobial drugs. This resistance is often a result of changes that take place in the genes of a micro-organism. Sometimes, the genes that are capable of such resistance can easily be transferred from one strain to another. The recipients of such organisms will then become resistant as well.

Understanding Antimicrobial Resistance

Microbes refer to different types of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites that cause diseases. Over the years, antimicrobial agents like penicillin and over a hundred other types of drugs have been developed to fight the proliferation of infectious diseases... but due to antimicrobial resistance, these drugs become useless.

The consequences can be very serious. Infections that are brought about by resistant bacteria and microbes will then be unable to respond to medical treatment, leading to prolonged conditions and illnesses that carry higher death risks. Failing to treat the infections will also contribute to lengthier infectivity periods and more people becoming exposed to the infections. This means a larger population that may potentially contract infections with resistant microbes.

When infections and illnesses exhibit resistance to commonly prescribed antimicrobials, the treatment will then require additional courses of antimicrobials. Some may even switch to third-line drugs. This means more expenses for drug treatment and the possibility of high toxicity levels in patients.

Antimicrobial resistance can be accelerated by human practices. In particular, the misuse of antimicrobials for infections in varying doses and time periods may cause microbes to die or to adapt.

People nowadays often resort to self-diagnosing and self-medicating whatever it is they believe they are infected with. Unfortunately, this means that people may have inadequate doses, use counterfeit drugs, or use the wrong type of drugs for the wrong type of illness. Some will even resort to single doses only and will only take them until they feel better. Feeling better does not mean that the pathogen has been eliminated. This misuse of antimicrobial drugs will encourage microbes to adapt to drugs and will create an environment that allows microbes to get stronger, rather than to be eliminated completely.

Hospitals also contribute to the spread of infections and the development of antimicrobial resistance. If hospitals and other medical facilities fail to practice infection control measures, such as frequent hand washing, this may cause infections to spread more easily in the hospital and beyond.

Education is key to battling antimicrobial resistance. The government and other agencies must develop strategies for educating lawmakers, health care professionals, consumers, and professionals about this phenomenon.

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