Antibiotics (also known as antimicrobial drugs), is a medication that is used to treat bacterial infection in the body, such as colds, flu, throat infections etc. The first antibiotic to be ever made was penicillin by Alexander Fleming in 1928. Therefore, antibiotics have been around for decades.
Although antibiotics are used to treat infections, like every other drug/medication, different types will have different side effects. Consequently, we get different antibiotics in different ways: either over the counter (without a prescription), or through a prescription (as some could have life threatening side effects therefore one must be careful when taking them and consent from the doctor is needed).
There was a time before antibiotics were discovered though most may will have never known it first-hand. Deaths would be caused just because by a fever caused by walking in the rain in winter. Antibiotics can help cure this. But now we've seen a flip side because more and more people are starting to become antibiotics resistant, and this could possibly lead to the old time coming back
“It seems that we will soon revert back to the pre-antibiotic era, when simple pathogens could cause very severe infections. Something has to be done.”
- Ada Yonath.
This is causing it to be one of the most talked about health problems nowadays and that’s because antibiotics resistance can cause illnesses that were treatable before to become untreatable once again.
So, what is antibiotics resistance?
Antibiotics resistance is when the bacteria in our body that causes these illnesses mutate and become resistance to the antibiotics. It means that the bacteria will not die, but rather, stay in our bodies and multiply. This can not only affect the person affected with the resistant bacteria, but it also can be contagious and then infect others such as family members, classmates, and people around the infected. Some bacteria that are resistance to antibiotics and are living in your body can cause a serious or harm even death in some cases- see a link to the interesting case of an American woman here.
Crystallographer, Ada Yonath, is also well known for her pioneering work on the structure of ribosomes, which therefore allowed her to look more closely into antibiotics. Consequently, Ada Yonath had a discussion on this issue of antibiotic resistance:
"Bacteria want to live. They find a way to exist by changing their own genome, and they can do it very quickly."
Since Ada Yonath recognises the issue, herself and others have been researching ways to make antibiotics that are very specific. It would make it harder for the bacteria to resist them.
However, what can we do to limit antibiotic resistance occurring in our bodies?
Consult your doctor before taking any antibiotics, and make sure to take it ONLY when needed.
Do not keep antibiotics for the next time you get sick from a previous prescription.
When you are prescribed antibiotics, make sure that you take it as your doctor has recommended; do not skip or stop taking antibiotic dosages unless you are told so as this could be a big cause to bacteria resisting antibiotics.
Priyanka Chandra & Noor Al Hamadani