International day of antibiotic resistance
What to look out for with bladder infections and other infections
Everyone is talking about resistances. Yet not everyone knows how to classify the topic correctly. Some would like to be resistant to certain temptations such as sweets; and during the still ongoing Corona pandemic, many people wish they were resistant to germs. Today however, on the international day of antibiotics, it is about highlighting the negative effects of antibiotic resistances and how they can be prevented.
Balanced omnipresent bacteria
Bacteria are ever-present, not only on surfaces, in food or waters, but even in the human body. Whether in the ear, nose and throat area, in the saliva, in the gastro-intestinal tract, on the skin and even in the genital area – bacteria can be found everywhere. And that is a good thing! Many of the bacteria in the body support certain body functions, and keep the so-called flora in balance, to prevent infections. However, if this balance is disturbed, certain microorganisms – including bacteria – can cause an infection. Hereby, the organism described as the pathogen multiplies inside the human body, and triggers a response from the immune system, which can lead to fever, feeling of weakness and chills. Through these reactions, the body is trying to inhibit the growth of the pathogen and to restore the previously described balance.
A long lasting, strong infection brings severe health risks, as the body’s own defence reactions such as fever, can also affect healthy cells, and many body functions can no longer be carried out adequately. For this reason, medication is used to treat infections if the body’s own defence reaction is not sufficient. One of these possible medication treatments is antibiotics, which destroy the growth and structure of bacteria and can therefore defend the infection.
Many severe infections can be treated successfully with these antibiotics. However, for the treatment to be successful, it is necessary that the infection is caused by bacteria, as antibiotics have no effect against viruses, fungal infections or parasites, which can also be triggers for infection. Therefore, antibiotics must be prescribed by doctors, who can diagnose the reason for the illness and can treat it specifically.
Risks of treatment with antibiotics
As promising as the use of antibiotics appears, treatment should be handled with care. Due to the broad effect against bacteria, the mentioned flora is destroyed completely, which can often cause long-term complaints. Furthermore, side effects such as gastro-intestinal complaints, vomiting and others often occur in connection with antibiotic treatment. Most importantly, the long-term risk of developing resistances is becoming a big problem in medicine.
After an infection has subsided or after successful treatment, it cannot be assumed that all the responsible pathogens were destroyed. On the contrary, individual pathogens can survive antibiotic treatment, and mutate to resist further clearance with antibiotics. That way, initially relative resistances are formed, where a pathogen seems less susceptible to treatment, right up to an absolute resistance, which means that the antibiotic no longer has any effect on the relevant bacteria. An infection caused by a resistant germ is therefore much more severe, and sometimes impossible to treat.
Reduce the use of antibiotics
In order to counteract the formation of resistances, the European guidelines and the Swiss Federal Council recommend restrictive use of antibiotics. For frequently occurring infections which do not necessarily require antibiotic treatment, one should refrain from the use of antibiotics for as long as possible. A common example from practice is the urinary tract infection – a frequently occurring infection in women, which only requires antibiotic treatment in approx. 3% of cases.
However, if the use of antibiotics is indicated, a consultation with the GP is required. Furthermore, the treatment duration must be adhered to, and sporadic use of antibiotics must be avoided, to limit the development of resistances to important medications.