Antibiotic Resistance – Worried?
After being on a few courses last year I started to think about the pills I was popping and remembered a couple of adverts that came out last year. I'm talking Antibiotics. In 2018 I took them for a bladder infection maybe twice, a chest infection, after bladder stone removal and after I had my wisdom teeth out to prevent infection. Four or five courses in a year isn't bad... right? I haven't a clue to this answer so it got me thinking further.
I wanted a public opinion so before writing this I emailed a few of our members for some more detailed opinions. Out of those I asked around half had heard of antibiotic resistance. Including Suzi one of our bench staff, who didn't take any last year but has “taken a lot through childhood” so does her best to follow the advice of “try not to take them if possible.” Sound advice and it's the same conclusion I felt when watching the adverts I mentioned earlier, but I feel it's pretty vague. This is where I must stress, everyone's different. We're individuals and our opinions will differ along with our medical needs. Take Martin for example, one of our newest players, who's “never heard of antibiotic resistance” and said “I took about 10 courses of antibiotics last year.” he also thinks “I really didn’t need them but that’s just me, I don’t like to be lying around and doing nothing so I thought this was the best course of action.” Martin like myself is tetraplegic and I was advised in the early days of my disability that we are more susceptible to infections for various reasons. So I'm sure our 'antibiotic allowance' would also differ. And here's where I found myself thinking about the 'just in case' option.
As I said earlier a course I took was for a chest infection, I was struggling to clear it and it was only getting worse. In my opinion it was past the 'just in case' option. Thankfully I've got a good relationship with my GP, known me since I was a child. The doc agreed that with my disability antibiotics was the best course of action. I really do appreciate his understanding of my disability and willingness to listen. But I understand not everyone is that lucky, with opinions and requirements differing I can't see all prescriptions going that easily... or are they going too easy?
When asking our mechanic Doz if he was worried about the future of antibiotic resistance he gave this response, “My only worry about the future is that GPs continue to prescribe antibiotics as a first course of treatment. The new NHS campaign "Keep antibiotics working" launched last October, seems to be aimed at the patient not taking them when it is unnecessary but the patient wouldn't be able to take them if the GPs hadn't already prescribed them. The GPs need to be more responsible with their prescriptions.”
Strong words there and I can't help but agree. After looking into it I found an article that refers to a study done on GP's in England showing “up to 1 in 5 antibiotics are prescribed inappropriately.” Independent experts “found that between 8.8% and 23.1% of all antibiotic prescriptions could be classified as inappropriate.” With the highest number going to “sore throat, cough, sinusitis (inflammation of the sinuses) and ear infections.” That's a wide margin and I felt these types of prescriptions will of course continue. Although I agree with Doz I'm not saying the Doctors are solely to blame, as people's 'just in case' opinions will differ, some will go the doc expecting antibiotics for a sniffle or slight cough and it's clear some will get them. But it seems the docs are trying to cut it back.
Another study has shown that “GPs prescribe fewer antibiotics when paid bonuses to cut rates.” Docs were given an extra fiver for “every patient on their list... if they meet targets to cut antibiotic prescribing.” So it seems, as in lot of cases, money might be the answer. But doesn't that put the public at risk? Is under prescribing better than over prescribing? I'm clearly not a medical professional so won't pretend to have the answer. I'm simply here to share thoughts and get opinions to form my own conclusion.
Am I worried about antibiotic resistance? My answer... slightly. With these superbugs floating around I do feel it's to get worse before it gets better. We're also struggling to create new meds that battle infections. The fact that “only two new antibiotic classes have been introduced in the last 40 years” puts us on dodgy ground to battle future infections. But I have faith in the medical professionals and science in general, I'm sure we'll survive.
I realised I wasn't alone in my slightly laid back approach while reading Martin's response when asked if he was worried about future generations becoming immune to antibiotics... “I’m not worried about my daughter becoming immune to antibiotics as we are making sure that she is getting many many germs at this precise moment.” I feel Martin highlights a key point that young children need to be exposed to germs when their immune systems are developing. That combined with efforts from GPs to prescribe antibiotics when truly needed and hopefully the 'epidemic' will subside. But hey, that's my humble opinion. If you were aware of antibiotic resistance let us know your thoughts and if you hadn't heard of it, hopefully this has helped you form an opinion. If so let us know on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Be happy and healthy people!