It's all over the news this week: the latest headlines surrounding antibiotics and how relying on them could be damaging to our health and increasing the risk of anxiety and depression. It's a frightening discovery but there's more: research, and evidence in surgical practice where I operate daily, is showing that the over-use of antibiotics is leading to resistant bacteria which means when we do need antibiotics we're going to find they no longer have the power to effectively treat the condition.
Resistance to antibiotics
Over my surgical career I have seen a real change in the way we use antibiotics. Initially we doled them out at every opportunity, not just to treat, but in the hope of preventing infection from surgery. Today, the situation is very different. We are seeing more and more people resistant to first-line, second-line and even third-line antibiotics, making serious infections harder to cure. The fact is that the more we use antibiotics, the more bacteria will become resistant to them. And if that continues, there will come a time when the nasty chest infection that used to be quickly sorted out with a course of antibiotics, is no longer easily treatable.
Is this a serious risk?
The World Health Organisation thinks so. It regards antibiotic resistance as a 'serious threat [that] is no longer a prediction for the future, it is happening right now in every region of the world and has the potential to affect anyone, of any age, in any country.' It's definitely a sobering thought.
And it isn't just antibiotic resistance that is becoming a real issue. We are also seeing individuals come to actual harm from antibiotics, which don't just kill off the bad bacteria - they kill off the good bacteria in our gut too. This can occasionally lead to life-threatening bowel problems. As a result, we are now extremely careful with our use of antibiotics - limiting them to essential cases.
So what can you do?
As well as understanding that antibiotics aren't always the answer, the WHO recommends that you:
• use antibiotics only when prescribed by a doctor;
• complete the full prescription, even if you feel better;
• never share antibiotics with others or use leftover prescriptions
And, my advice? In addition to these recommendations, try to keep yourself as healthy as possible. Good nutrition and keeping fit will help to keep you free of those bugs in the first place and reduce the need for antibiotics at all, saving those precious drugs for when we really need them! We can help with sustainable health, wellbeing and weight loss at www.VavistaLife.comSuggest a correction