Our bodies would not be able to function properly without bacteria. They are found throughout our bodies and aid in many processes such as digestion. The human digestive tract is littered with 000’s of so called ‘friendly-bacteria’. These friendly bacteria help digest food and ensure harmful bacteria do not build up. If the harmful bacteria do build up an infection may begin. I imagine every single one of you reading this have had an infection of some sort, from a typical throat or chest infection to something a little more embarrassing! My point is, in the world we live in, what do we do when we have an infection? We go to the doctors and get a prescription for some antibiotics. Within a week the infection will have gone and we are back to normal. But what would, or what will we do without antibiotics?
You may have seen in your local GP surgery posters describing the growing bacterial resistance to antibiotics. This means as we use antibiotics more and more they become more and more ineffective against bacteria. If we continue as we are doing, eventually all antibiotics will be useless in fighting bacterial infections. The implications if this were to happen are huge. Procedures that would be affected include organ transplants, chemotherapy, potentially even a scratched knee!
So why don’t we just make some new antibiotics? Well unfortunately we have already done that and are now running out of possible alternatives. Over the last 4 years only 2 new antibiotics have been approved! Furthermore, bacteria are becoming much better at resisting antibiotics and much quicker at transferring resistance.
Scientists suggest that in 20 years people may die of bacterial infections that were treatable in 1990s. So what can we do about it? While the researchers carry out their research and the pharmaceutical companies battle over patents, it is our responsibility to be honest with doctors. If you have a cold (- colds are caused by a virus NOT bacteria) do not insist on antibiotics. They will not help your cold and will only worsen the problem of bacterial resistance. By helping doctors correctly diagnose and prescribe we can help to fight bacterial resistance, before it is too late.