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Antibiotics quickly losing their effectiveness - and at an irreversible rate

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
November 18th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

With flu and cold season upon the world come the colder winter months, general practitioners are being warned about freely handing out antibiotics for every case of the sniffles they see. Overuse of antibiotics has led bacteria to find new and effective ways to fly past the medications - at a rapid and irreversible rate.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Citing proof, the number of prescriptions for antibiotics has risen by 10 per cent in the last five years. Seemingly handed out like candy, a third of all people in Great Britain have taken them in the last 12 months. Research suggests the rise is due to doctors yielding to the demands of patients.

The Health Protection Agency in the United Kingdom now warns that the overuse of antibiotics has led to a rise in resistant bacteria. Experts are particularly concerned about recent increases in strains of e-coli which cause urine infections and pneumococcus bugs, which can lead to pneumonia.

Chief medical Officer Dame Sally Davies said this could lead to more people dying during routine operations such as heart surgery. "Antibiotics are losing their effectiveness at a rate that is alarming and irreversible - similar to global warming," Dame Sally said.

"I urge patients and prescribers to think about the drugs they are requesting and dispensing.

"Bacteria are adapting and finding ways to survive the effects of antibiotics, ultimately becoming resistant so they no longer work."

Doctors are now only to prescribe these medications when it is absolutely necessary.

"The total number of antibiotics GPs are prescribing is increasing," Dr. Cliodna McNulty, head of primary care at the HPA says.

"When patients go and see their GPs, if they ask for an antibiotic, the very vast majority will get one.

"What GPs need to do is share the advantages and disadvantages of antibiotics with the patients and explain how long infections normally last.

"The more antibiotics you have, the more likely it is that your next infection will be resistant.

"We know that if you've had a chest infection or a urinary tract infection and you've used antibiotics in the past six months, you're twice as likely to have a resistant organism.

McNulty says this is a dangerous practice. "These resistant bacteria don't just infect you; they spread to other people who come into contact with you."

Most worrisome is the fact that patients who take antibiotics for minor coughs or sore throats may end up carrying resistant bacteria on their bodies for several months, passing them on to others.

These same bacteria may cause pneumonia or severe urine infections in someone else, such as an elderly relative.

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