Antibiotics and resistance: why you need to care

Antibiotic medications are used to kill bacteria, which can cause illness and disease. They have made a major contribution to human health. Many diseases that once killed people can now be treated effectively with antibiotics. However, some bacteria have become resistant to commonly used antibiotics because of unnecessary prescribing and overprescribing of antibiotics as well as incorrect usage.


What are antibiotics and what do they treat?

Antibiotics work in two main ways. One is to kill bacteria, the other is to stop them from multiplying. Some antibiotics act against only certain bacteria, whilst others act against a wide range of bacteria and these are called broad spectrum antibiotics. Antibiotics do not kill viruses and therefore if you have an infection caused by a virus, antibiotics will not treat this infection. The common cold and influenza are both infections that are caused by viruses and therefore are not cured by taking antibiotics.


What is antibiotic resistance and why does it occur?

Antibiotic resistance occurs when a bacteria becomes able to resist the effects of an antibiotic to which it was once sensitive. Antibiotic resistance is fast becoming a global concern because it threatens our ability to treat common infectious diseases. This can result in serious illness, even death, caused by infections we have previously been able to treat with antibiotics. It also has implications for prevention of infections during surgical and medical procedures such as organ transplantation and cancer chemotherapy. This makes these procedures very risky as infection during or after them can have devastating consequences.


What is the size of them problem worldwide?

Antibiotic resistance is present globally and about 700,000 people die each year worldwide from bacterial infections but that toll could rise to 10 million by 2050.


What is being done to improve the situation?

All countries need a national action plan on antimicrobial resistance. The World Health Organisation is providing assistance to help countries to develop and implement their plans. It is important that we aim to reduce inappropriate prescribing of antibiotics and over the counter sale. It is also important that doctors take the time to explain to our patients the reasons why their condition will or will not benefit from a course of antibiotics.

Choose over the counter first

There are many over the counter medications that can help you fight viral infection, so aim to only expect antibiotic treatment if  it is absolutely needed. Health at Hand has a partnership with drug delivery service 800 Pharmacy and we can arrange for a wide selection of over the counter medication to be delivered to you in Dubai within 60 minutes.

If you have any queries about whether you might need antibiotics or not, check with one of our doctors quickly and easily over a video consultation today.

Dr Ruhil Badiani,

Health at Hand Medical Director