A phrase that is commonly heard in the office is “Penicillin is no longer working for me, could you give me another stronger antibiotic?
This phrase encompasses a major health problem that has become very important today but has actually been around for a long time: resistance to antibiotics.
Antibiotics are drugs that act specifically against bacteria, not against the body, so saying “it doesn’t make me any more” is wrong because it doesn’t depend on or act against the body itself.
How Bacteria Become Resistant To Antibiotics?
If an antibiotic does not effectively treat an infection, it may not have been the right medicine, but it is also possible that the bacteria causing the infection is resistant to the medicine used.
Bacteria have been able to survive for millions of years due to their great ability to adapt to the environment, so much so that there are bacteria everywhere, in any type of climate, and even in places that are uninhabitable for man.
With the arrival of antibiotics, bacteria have had to adapt to this new danger, for them so that they can continue to survive.
There are several mechanisms by which bacteria have been able to adapt and build resistance.
One of them is mutations, just as in the comics, a mutant is a person whose genes have changed to provide super strength, super speed or the ability to manipulate things with the mind, the mutations that bacteria have to allow them to fight against antibiotics that they try to kill them.
Another mechanism is an adaptation by constant exposure. Just as humans, when exercising, adapt to carrying more and more weight, running faster, or swimming farther, bacteria also adapt to drugs if they are constantly exposed to them.
This happens, for example, when we do not finish treatment or when we only take a pill for a sore throat. This minimal exposure is like an exercise session for bacteria and exposes them to be able to endure more and more doses of the drug without having an effect.
Although it may seem impossible, bacteria also learn as if it were a game of strategy. They can learn how other bacteria died, how they were destroyed, what caused their death.
If they see that it was their wall that was destroyed, then they reinforce that defense, if they see that their “factories” were destroyed then they protect themselves in a certain way by disguising themselves or changing their structure.
In reality, not all the mechanisms by which bacteria become resistant are known, but it is up to each of us to contribute to making this process not faster.
How to help bacteria become resistant or at least slow down this process?
Do not take antibiotics without a prescription and finish the treatment as directed by the doctor. If you look at it from a different point of view, the bacterium that does not become resistant today is a bacterium that can be treated in the future.
The antibiotic that you do not take unnecessarily today may be the antibiotic that can cure an infection.