Antibiotic resistance is a massive problem. Patients in hospitals are increasingly being diagnosed with infections tough to treat with drugs that used to be the go to medications. And it’s not just in the hospitals. Increasingly a cut or scrape may end up infected with MRSA. The fault lies in many places, but what’s clear is that we’ve overused antibiotics and now we’re paying the price. Here are some steps you can take to fight antibiotic resistance.
Buy Antibiotic-Free Meat and Dairy
One of the major sources of antibiotic resistance has been the livestock industry, who use antibiotics to bulk up their animals and “prevent” infections, something never done with human use. They use so much, in fact, that 80% of antibiotics are actually used for animals, not humans. This generates drug-resistant bugs that end up in our environment, potentially causing serious infection. Buying from companies that don’t use antibiotics to raise their animals discourages companies from using these practices.
Ask Your Doctor If You Really Need Antibiotics
Doctor Google can sometimes send us to the doctor certain we have Strep throat when we really just have a viral cold. The problem is, viruses can’t be treated with antibiotics. If you go in asking for an antibiotic, you doctor might decide just to give you one even if you don't have a bacterial infection. Before you leave with a prescription, ask your doctor if they really think it’s going to help. If it’s not, then don’t take it. If you do need them, ask for the shortest course.
Take the Whole Course
It can be tempting to think that when you feel better you don’t need antibiotics. Instead of making the problem better, you’re actually making it worse. Taking the whole course gives the antibiotics enough time to get to all the nooks and crannies of your body and kill all the bacteria. If you stop half way through, you kill off the weakest germs while leaving the resistant ones. Then when you try it again, it won’t work. Don’t skip doses, either.
Don’t Take Your Friends' Medications
So your friend was just sick and now you think you have the same thing. The temptation is to take the antibiotic they were given, but if you don’t know that you have a bacterial infection, you shouldn’t be taking antibiotics. While taking a few pills may seem harmless enough, they can interact with medications and cause gastrointestinal troubles in addition to antibiotic resistance. If you think you need something more than over the counter meds, go see a doctor first.
Concerns about resistance to triclosan, an ingredient in some hand sanitizers, are growing. While sanitizers are easy, washing with regular soap and water is still best. If you can’t do that, use an alcohol based sanitizer and use alcohol or bleach to clean surfaces since these don’t induce resistance.
Use Your Voice
The government has slowly been taking steps to act, but Congress pays attention when voters show they care.