Antibiotics can save lives.
In life-threatening situations, powerful antibiotics need to be administered immediately to avoid a potentially lethal infection. Unfortunately, these drugs are prescribed all too often without a confirmed diagnosis – and in some cases for people who aren’t suffering from bacterial infections at all.
The key is to prescribe the right antibiotic at the right dosage at the correct time.
HOW RESISTANCE STARTS
Some types of bacteria can divide every 20 minutes under the right conditions. With such fast turnover, these bacteria quickly adapt to antibiotic exposure – especially when doses are too small or taken for too short a time. This resistance may even pass from one group of bacteria to another, resulting in antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can become impervious to nearly every drug thrown at them.
HOW TO DEFEND YOURSELF
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to defend yourself in a world where antibiotics are becoming increasingly unreliable. It starts with commonsense precautions, such as washing produce (and your hands) thoroughly, and cooking food (especially animal protein) properly.
You might also want to consider what goes on your plate. Meat lovers may want to rethink their consumption of meat by cutting back on quantity and increasing the quality. While there’s no evidence that eating meat raised without antibiotics will help you avoid resistant infections, experts say increased demand for higher-quality meats may lower overall consumption.
WHAT TO DO AFTER DIAGNOSIS
Medical experts warn not to treat antibiotics lightly. Be sure to ask your physician about your specific diagnosis and what you’re infected with. Be sure to follow dosing instructions and ask about side effects. Once you have completed your antibiotic treatment, it is recommended to take a high-quality probiotic to restore intestinal flora.
If you were in the hospital, it’s especially important to remind your healthcare providers to clean their hands before they touch you. And if you have a catheter, be sure to ask every day, “Do I still need this catheter?” (Some hospitals are better at infection control. Visit medicare.gov/hospitalcompare to learn which hospitals are best.)
THE POWER OF PLANTS
Some experts believe plants are “the world’s best chemists,” and take an herbal approach to fighting infections directly. It’s believed when the bacteria become antibiotic-resistant, certain plants then create substances to counteract that resistance – leading some to conclude that over time, plant medicines will be more sophisticated and reliable than pharmaceuticals. A striking example has been the zero-fail rate in the clinical use of Cryptolepis sanguinolenta tincture for MRSA (a resistant form of staph), which has been applied for over 20 years.
In the end, maintaining good health may be your best defense against antibiotic resistance. Getting enough sleep, taking short walks, eating healthy and learning more about medicinal plants – are all great ways to set yourself on track to a healthy lifestyle. The best way to deal with infection, however, is to avoid it altogether.
“HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF AGAINST ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE” by: Lisa James ; Edited by Elena Doxey