The term might seem a bit tricky, but it is a straightforward and common phenomenon. Antimicrobial resistance occurs when microorganisms like fungi, viruses, parasites, or bacteria modify it as they come in contact with antimicrobial drugs, thus making the medication ineffective. This can positively affect the treatment of an infection caused by any bacteria, viruses, parasites, or fungi.
As they mutate themselves against the antimicrobial drugs, the drugs stop working, and as a result, the infection keeps on persisting in the body of the patient. It is a severe factor because this can kill and even spread to other bodies. This is a huge field, but it mainly circles bacteria or microbes becoming resistant to antibiotics or antimicrobial medicines that accelerate its spread and worsen a person’s health.
Why does it occur?
Antimicrobial Resistance is a natural phenomenon. This happens naturally in your body when the microorganisms react to antibiotics. Some of our actions or external sources can also lead to faster spreading and development of the phenomenon. Here are some of the ways we can affect the process:
Bacteria mutating itself
The microbes divide every hour and keep on multiplying in number. This helps them to evolve and adapt rapidly under new environmental circumstances. Further, this reproduction allows the bacteria to mutate it. When they start to mutate themselves, they build a resistance against the antimicrobial. Thus, they keep on surviving and becoming resistant to the antimicrobial.
When the bacteria are exposed to antimicrobial, they either get killed, or they don’t. Some microbes tend to survive because they have resistance in their genes. Once that starts to divide or replicate, and this progeny becomes one of the dominant categories and makes this microbial population superior in the body.
Microbes that include fungi, viruses, bacteria, and parasites evolve like any other living organism. The main functions of the microbes are to thrive, spread, develop, and reproduce. They are like any other plant or animal cell. They tend to evolve according to their outer environment. This is a part of their survival.
Antimicrobial drugs or antibiotics are an obstacle to their survival and growth. Thus when they come in contact with the drugs, they tend to change themselves or evolve. Some get killed by the drug, but the ones who survive develop features to resist the drug. Further, they keep on multiplying in number.
The transfer of genes
The bacteria can get genes from other bacteria. It can get genes that can make it resistant to antimicrobial drugs. Drug-resistant bacteria can transfer its gene to the different bacteria that are not drug-resistant, making the nonresistant bacteria resistant to antimicrobials. In other cases, of only the drug-resistant bacteria survive, it can reproduce and multiply.
Inadequacy of diagnostics
In many cases, experts in healthcare give out imperfect and misinformation about a disease. In other cases, the diagnosis is entirely wrong, and the healthcare providers end up giving the incorrect prescriptions. They sometimes prescribe antimicrobials where it isn’t needed or prescribe a considerable variety of antibiotics or antimicrobials where just one specific antibiotic can do the job. This helps to accelerate the resistance power of the microbes.
The resistance of the microbes can be accelerated when the antimicrobial drugs are misused. For instance, when antibiotics are recommended to a patient of cold or flu, there are high chances of developing AMR. The main reason behind this is that viruses cause cold or flu, and antimicrobial drugs aren’t meant to fight viruses.
Use in Agriculture
The practice of giving antibiotics unnecessarily and in an improper way to animals can also accelerate the development of AMR in them. Farmers or pet owners tend to provide antibiotics to the animals without any prescription, and even when it is not needed. This practice needs to stop immediately to keep in check the rapid development of AMR in animals.
AMR can also spread in hospitals. Patients diagnosed with chronic diseases often require antimicrobials. But, a heavy dosage of antibiotics in a patient can worsen his or her condition. This is because selective pressure that occurs due to intaking too many varieties of antibiotics at a time.
When a patient who has developed AMR comes in contact with other patients, the disease can spread. For this, distance should be maintained, proper diagnosis should be made, and the healthcare providers need to stop prescribing a variety of antibiotics at once.
The pressure of society
When you are under antimicrobial medication, the antimicrobials can only pressure some bacteria or microbes. Other societal or external pressures help in the rapid growth of Antimicrobial resistance, this include:
- Consuming antibiotics without following the directions
- When health experts over prescribe or recommend the antibiotics
- Lack of hygiene can also affect the phenomenon
- Not taking proper prevention against the infection
- Traveling around the world and spreading the virus
- The use of antibiotics
- Low-quality medication can also accelerate it
- When people take antibiotics for cold and flu
- Erroneous prescriptions
- Poor method of controlling the infection
Even after antimicrobial resistance or AMR is diagnosed, the use of antibiotics must be restricted. Continuation of antibiotics can make the bacteria:
- modify it to protect it from antibiotics
- It can switch on its internal resistance
- It can also collect the resistant gene from any other bacteria present in the body
Facts about AMR
The main reason for the AMR is the use of antibiotics. When the antibiotics come in contact with the bacteria, some may die, but the ones that don’t get killed can multiply. The overuse of antibiotics, even after AMR, is detected in the patient’s body, can make the bacteria more resistant, and help it persist in the body.
The more you keep on using the antibiotics, the more the bacteria get resistant to it. This denotes that the condition of the patient will get worse, and the patient will not recover.
When using antibiotics, you need to keep one thing in mind that they only work against bacteria and not viruses. This means that you cannot use antibiotics against the flu or colds. The continuous use of the antibiotic even after AMR can make the bacteria more powerful and even help it mutate itself. This means the more you use the antibiotic, the more resistant and powerful it becomes.
Can it spread?
Yes, it can spread from one being to the other. It can spread from humans and animals as well.
When any antibiotics are given to any animal or a flock of animal, AMR can develop. When one animal is gets antibiotic and develops AMR, it can be infected.
When antibiotics are given to any patient of any hospital or a community. The person can develop AMR. It spreads mainly spreads because of the lack of hygiene in people and the lack of social distancing. It can spread through the air, soil, or even water.
People can also get sick by traveling to a country that has antibiotic resistance. This can happen by:
- Traveling to an AMR contaminated country
- Eating any contaminated food item
- Coming in contact with contaminated animals
- Drinking the water that has been contaminated
- While getting treated in a contaminated country
Due to the lack of hygiene
The lack of hygiene and infection prevention methods in people and animals can accelerate the spread of AMR. This includes:
- Lack of hygiene help spread the bacteria or germs.
- This increases the need for antibiotics on people leading to the growth of AMR.
The lack of government control over the situation can worsen it. When the infection starts to spread in the community, the government has to take necessary steps to check the disease’s contamination. The lack of good infection prevention is one of the main causes behind it.
Many times when people live nearby, it can spread rapidly. Restricting the process of diagnosing every suspect of AMR also deters the control of the resistance. Lack of surveillance is also the leading cause.
Use of antibiotics accelerating the development of AMR
There was no definite cure of infection until recently in the 20th century when antibiotics were developed. Now, there are antibiotics used to treat any infection caused by bacteria in the world. But, the problem started when bacteria started to resist these antibiotics naturally. This phenomenon is known as antimicrobial resistance. This occurs if the bacteria’s gene alternates or develops drug-resistant characteristics from any other bacteria. Consistent use of antibiotics can make them ineffective against bacteria.
Why is this primary concern?
Yes, AMR is a significant concern for humans as well as animals. This has caused diseases like pneumonia in the past. If you want the antibiotics to work, you might have to stop using antibiotics for the period and then start it again. If once AMR takes place, it gets too hard to cure the person. Sometimes, it takes too long for the person to get well. AMR can also lead to other severe health conditions or diseases.
In many cases, AMR has led to death. It gets tough for health experts in treating people suffering from a chronic illness due to AMR. People who have developed resistance from antibiotics can require surgery, dialysis, or chemotherapy.
How can you protect yourself?
There are specific ways in which you can protect yourself from AMR. These are:
Complete your course of medication
Even if you have recovered from your illness, you need to finish your medicine. You have to take medication as your doctor directs it. You can make the bacteria resistant to drugs if you stop taking the medication mid-way before the bacteria goes from your system.
Only take antibiotics when prescribed
You must take a recommendation from your doctor before you start taking antibiotics. It would help if you asked whether they will help your situation get better. Antibiotics certainly do not work against infection or illness caused by viruses; this includes bronchitis, common colds, ear infection, or sinus.
Stay safe in hospitals
If you admit to a hospital, visited a hospital, or have to work in any hospital, you need to maintain strict hygiene. Antibiotic bacteria are prevalent in hospitals. It would help if you washed your hands, face, and even clothes to keep the germs away.
Vaccines can help you build a better immune system. You need immunization to protect yourself from any illness or infection that needs to be treated by antibiotics.
What can solve the problem?
A lot of steps can control Antimicrobial resistance. Here are other recommendations that can help combat AMR rapidly:
- The Public health officials of every part of the world should check AMR’s persistence and track its speed of spreading
- The speedy development of new-age antibiotics can help in keeping AMR in check
- Government officials need to increase the number of tests to diagnose AMR
- Stop prescribing unnecessary antibiotics
- Animals should not get antibiotics without prescriptions
When it comes to contagious diseases, AMR comes to the prime focus. There are more developments to happen in the field of medical science on AMR. But, uncertainty is still the most significant challenge, which is why we need to be careful. Vaccines and precautions are the best way to stay safe.