Thursday, 4 August 2016

#HealthyThursday : What is the big deal about antibiotics anyway?



While I will not be able to give statistical data on the misuse of antibiotics, I can categorically tell you that, the misuse of antibiotics puts the human race in a great risk. Misuse in this context will refer to
  1. Overuse
  2. Incomplete use
  3. Unnecessary use.
Not every visit to your Health-care provider requires you to go home with a prescription that has antibiotics in it. If you have an antibiotics containing prescription however, it is important to you, me and the rest of the world that you buy this antibiotics on time and finish it. I will be telling you a few reasons why but let’s scratch the surface a bit.

Infections are responsible for a large number of diseases adversely affecting human health. These infections are caused by microorganisms (that are largely divided into bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa and worm even). Agents known to fight off these infections are called antimicrobial agents, and they differ depending on the causative agents antiviral agents fight off viruses, antibiotics kill or prevent the growth of bacteria, antifungals-fungi, antiheliminthics-worms and so it goes. Let's also mention here, that agents meant to kill viruses (antivirals) will not be effective in fighting bacterial infections and vice versa.

So here is the big question:

How do you know what infection ails you?

You need to visit your Health Care Provider before attempting to buy yourself any kind of medication. Especially antibiotics. What you have might just be a viral infection; and if it's really a bacterial infection you might be using the wrong antibiotics. Antibiotics are divided into classes (depending on the type of bacteria they fight,and their time of discovery) and some of them are reserved for very severe infections.

Another reason why you need to visit your Health Care Provider before buying any antibiotics is that you may not even have a bacterial infection in the first place!

With that in place, here are some of the reasons why you should not MISUSE antibiotics:

  1. Some antibiotics have been known to increase fatal diarrhoea in children.
  2. Unnecessary use of antibiotics can upset the normal flora (biological condition) of your guts, creating even more problems.
  3. The infection may become more difficult to treat because you did not finish your course of antibiotics; making it even more difficult to treat. 
The world is running out of options for the treatment of infection and this is why; the world is evolving and bacteria cells are evolving to stay relevant too. This unfortunately means that they pass on the “resistant strain” to weak ones so as to make them more difficult to treat. This is what happens when you ought to fight off an infection with your complete dose of antibiotics but you abandon it half way; the bacteria tries to survive the assault and “comes back to life stronger”.

So the next time you have been given an antibiotic-containing prescription,

Ensure that you stick to the prescribed dosing schedule e.g. Every 6 hours or 8 hours or even 12 hours depending on the drug you have been prescribed.

Ensure that you use it for the prescribed number of days. Every antibiotic has a time-cap to it.
When you miss a dose of antibiotics, take the next one as soon as you remember. Do NOT take both your missed dose and the next dose. It disrupts the dosing interval and doesn't really make the bacteria die sooner.


Remember that antibiotics don't fight infections caused by viruses. Cold, flu and most sore throats, and even sinus infections are mostly viral. So the next time you have a cold, don't go rushing to buy yourself antibiotics.

_______________________
Oluwaseun Adakaraza.
She's a Pharmacist, 
She lives and works in Warri.

Reach her
Twitter @shz_chubbie
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