The truth about antibiotics

Everyone has been given antibiotics for a condition or infection at some point. In fact, antibiotics are the most commonly prescribed drugs in the world. The problem with antibiotics, however, is that the more they are prescribed, the greater the chance that they will eventually stop working. And even eating meat means that people can rely less and less on antibiotics.

The superbug can no longer be combated

Scary diseases could always be fought with antibiotics. But nowadays, antibiotics no longer work so well, because the bacteria appear to be resistant or insensitive to those medications.

What are antibiotics used against and what exactly are antibiotics?

Antibiotics are used for various things. These could be:

  • Serious infections. These must be bacterial infections because antibiotics do not help against viruses. Millions of bacteria live in every person that clean up all kinds of things in the body. However, sometimes they can also cause infections such as a bladder infection or pneumonia. A stomach ulcer is also an infection caused by bacteria. Antibiotics are used for these types of cases to make the infections disappear. Antibiotics kill the bacteria that cause the infection or stop the growth of the bacteria. Antibiotics are life-saving, especially in the case of serious infections such as severe pneumonia or meningitis. In the past, when these drugs were not yet available, people often died from such diseases.


Why are some people resistant to antibiotics?

Bacteria that cause infections do everything they can to survive. As soon as antibiotics are swallowed or injected, they launch a counterattack, as it were, and do everything they can to make the medicine harmless. Moreover, they can change themselves in such a way that the antibiotic no longer has any effect on them. In that case there is resistance. It then becomes very difficult to combat the bacteria.

Antibiotics: only if really necessary

In the past, more antibiotics were prescribed in the Netherlands than today. This is no longer the case nowadays, because the Netherlands is well aware that this breeds bacteria that can become resistant. Unfortunately, in many other parts of the world, antibiotics are still easily given everywhere, such as in Southern and Eastern Europe and Asia. However, the more antibiotics are used in the world, the greater the chance that resistant bacteria will develop.

Bacteria that are already multi-resistant

There are already a number of bacteria that are multi-resistant. This means that the disease is resistant to multiple antibiotics. So if you get such a disease, there is a good chance that no antibiotics will help. Examples of such multi-resistant bacteria are:

  • E-colli bacteria
  • MRS bacteria, also known as hospital bacteria


Nothing more can be done about bacterial infections

If more and more bacteria become resistant, this may mean that there is nothing left to do about bacterial infections. However, efforts are being made at a global level to reduce the use of antibiotics worldwide. In addition, work is being done to develop new antibiotics to which the bacteria are not yet resistant.

Eating meat: also becoming insensitive to antibiotics

Because animals are also given antibiotics, it is true that eating meat from factory farms can also make you insensitive to antibiotics. For example, chicks were given standard antibiotics so that they did not get sick. In this way, many bacteria have become resistant. People can also ingest resistant bacteria by eating meat. However, if a person is healthy, this does not matter much. However, if someone does become ill, combating that disease becomes much more difficult. The government has therefore decided that the use of antibiotics in livestock farming must be reduced by half in 2013 compared to 2009.

Side effects of antibiotics

Antibiotics attack all kinds of bacteria in the body, including the good ones. Because there is normally a balance between fungi and good bacteria and the good bacteria are then destroyed, a side effect of antibiotics is often the development of fungal infections. These mainly occur in the vagina and mouth. Antibiotics can also cause diarrhea. Some antibiotics make it difficult for a person to tolerate sunlight because they cause a rash.

Make sure that antibiotics do not become resistant

You can also do something yourself to ensure that antibiotics do not become resistant. This is:

  • Always complete a course of antibiotics. Even if there are no more complaints, still take the pills because this really destroys the bacteria completely and not half so that it can continue to live on a dose of the drug.
  • Never buy and take antibiotics without a prescription.
  • Always take the pills on time so that there is always the correct dose of the drug in the body.
  • Never adjust the dosage by taking more or less of the drug.
  • Do not keep leftover antibiotics and use them later.
  • Do not buy antibiotics abroad without a doctor’s prescription. It may be a drug to which bacteria are already resistant and you do not want to run that risk.
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