When we are down with a prolonged or persistent cold or sore throat, it is common for many of us to think of antibiotics as a solution. Many will go to the extent of asking the doctor for it even if the doctor did not prescribe any. Some doctors will relent as they just want to make their customers happy but a few are adamant that their patients do not need antibiotics. Unfortunately, there are also doctors who prescribe antibiotics without identifying if the cause of the ailment is a bacterial or viral one (antibiotics only work on bacteria).
When antibiotics are consumed in a trigger-happy manner, some bacteria will evolve into drug-resistant organisms. These bacteria can survive exposure to any antibiotic, hence earning the name ‘superbug’. These types of bacteria have begun to spread worldwide, prevailing in India, Pakistan, the US and other parts of the world.
Antibiotics prescription to patients with superbugs is a useless treatment. Although the prescribed antibiotics can kill normal bacteria which caused the ailment, the infection will return as a result of the superbugs’ presence. In fact, if the patient has a weakened immune system, he might require a longer treatment period or can even die. Stronger antibiotics could be an alternative, but at the risk of damaging the internal organs. Nevertheless, some strong antibiotics such as carbapenems have been found to be ineffective against the new superbug discovered a few years ago.
For now, there is no treatment available for the superbug. While medical researchers are still looking for a way to tackle these superbugs, there are some measures you can take to reduce coming in contact with them:
- Limit your use of antibiotics. Ask your doctor if your sickness is caused by bacteria or virus, and ask for advice if you would really need them. Remember that antibiotics are only good against bacterial infections.
- Never use leftover antibiotics. Never attempt to self-medicate by taking old antibiotics from a previous bout of sickness. Discard of any unused antibiotics and get a new prescription when needed.
- Maintain good personal hygiene. Always wash and sanitise your hands whether you stayed indoors or outdoors. Learn the proper techniques for washing your hands. Use a hand sanitizer that has at least 62% alcohol at hand.
- Maintain your health by keeping your immune system functioning optimally through a diet of vitamins and antioxidants.
- Clean and cover any cut with a bandage to limit contact with bacteria.
- Educate yourself on food hygiene. Bacteria can spread via food and water. Clean your food properly before cooking. Use different cutting boards for meat, fruits and vegetables. Clean your hands in between handling of foods to prevent cross-contamination.
- Be aware of your food and water when travelling, especially to countries infested with superbug.
With superbugs developing at rapid rates, we are at risk of a future without effective antibiotics. Do yourself and the community by keeping superbugs at bay.