Antibiotic – a drug that is used to kill harmful bacteria and to cure infections

–        Merriam Webster Dictionary

sick-lady_650x366It’s official. Humanity is racing towards a post-antibiotic era, a time when life-saving medications will no longer successfully treat common bacterial infections.

The development of antibiotics was one of the great breakthroughs in modern medicine. Antibiotics can successfully fight bacterial infections. However their misuse by patients and healthcare professionals is leading to antibiotic resistance, which experts are framing as a natural disaster.

Anti- “against” + biotic- “of microbial life”

If antibiotics are required, it’s important to know how antibiotics work in order to prevent resistance.

  1. Antibiotics are only effective against bacteria. Alarmingly, recent research by NPS MedicineWise indicates almost two-in-three Australian workers mistakenly believe taking antibiotics will help them recover from their virus-causing cold or flu and back to work sooner.
  2. If you are prescribed a course of antibiotics, you should complete the full course rather than stop taking the antibiotic as soon as you start to feel better. Otherwise the ‘weaker’ bacteria will be killed, leaving the ‘stronger’ bacteria to survive and develop resistance against the antibiotic.
  3. Overuse and improper use of antibiotics cause side-effects; in the long-term, reducing their effectiveness.

A recent report by World Health Organisation (WHO) revealed many bacteria responsible for common but serious infections, including pneumococcal pneumonia, diarrhoea, gonorrhoea and bloodstream infections have developed resistance to antibiotics designed to wipe them out. Since there are few replacement treatments, the world will soon be forced ‘back to basics’ in a post- antibiotic world.

Many experts are surprisingly pleased by the shocking WHO report, with microbiologist Maurizio Labbate, University of Technology, Sydney, telling The Sydney Morning Herald,“It highlights exactly what we’ve been saying.”

To learn more about the risk of antibiotic resistance, head to the NPS MedicineWise site