Antibiotics revolutionised medicine, but more infections are becoming resistant. Read on to learn more about when, and why, they will be necessary for you.
Understanding antibiotic resistance
Antibiotics have been a crucial focus of medical and scientific research since their discovery in 1929. Throughout the middle of the 20th century, they revolutionised our approach to fighting bacterial infections, from acne to STIs. Due to their versatility and efficacy, they were hailed as wonder drugs, capable of overcoming a wide range of afflictions and debilitating conditions.
Antibiotics’ status as a ‘cure all’ meant that they were made readily available to patients — some of whom had no need for them. The common cold, for instance, is a viral infection, rendering antibiotics ineffective. An excess in availability meant that many strains of bacterial infection were able to evolve and develop a resistance to antibiotics, making effective treatment far more difficult.
What’s more, due to their success at treating infections, many patients undergoing a course of antibiotics would stop taking them as soon as they began to feel better. These days, most of us are well-educated on the need to complete a prescribed course, even if we feel no need to continue, but the damage has been done - bacteria was able to grow, multiply, and adapt to withstand our medications.
In response, doctors and patients are advised to take a far more judicious approach to the use of antibiotics; alternative treatments are being widely researched, and members of the public are being advised to avoid relying on antibiotics unless it has been expressly recommended.
Public Health England estimates that there are more than 60,000 antibiotic-resistant infections in the UK alone, making resistance one of the most pressing health emergencies faced by the medical community. There are, however, some instances where antibiotics provide an effective — and vitally important — treatment.
When Are Antibiotics Effective?
As a result of more stringent measures being taken toward the use of antibiotics, an increasing number of patients with non-life threatening infections are given alternative treatments to wipe out the bacteria. As a result of a heightened sensitivity to the risks of antibiotic resistance, they continue to provide an important course of treatment against a number of diseases, and to save lives all over the world.
Typically, patients suffering from less serious conditions — or conditions that will go away on their own — such as sore throats and ear infections are no longer prescribed antibiotics. However, if a bacterial infection is likely to spread and infect others — as with sexually transmitted illnesses, like chlamydia, or highly contagious infections such as impetigo — or the infection is unlikely to clear up without medical intervention, antibiotics remain an important resource for doctors.
Pneumonia and sepsis are among some of the most significant infections requiring antibiotics, as they can be life threatening conditions. Similarly, antibiotics remain an important preventative-measure for patients with compromised immune systems due to invasive surgery and chemotherapy.
When Should You Take Antibiotics?
Ideally, anyone who is suffering from the symptoms of an infection should consult with their doctor before taking treatments; although it is possible to buy antibiotics online, in general, it is far better to meet with your GP, explain your symptoms, and follow the course of treatment that they recommend for you.
Unfortunately, there are times when medical assistance is unavailable. Travelling abroad, for instance, presents many difficulties for patients, as remote or unfamiliar areas can make it difficult to find a doctor quickly, and the prevalence of dangerous, counterfeit medicine makes finding treatment risky in many areas of the world.
Although nobody wishes to believe that they will fall ill while travelling or taking a holiday, exposure to a new environment, new food, and a lack of sleep makes it far more likely that we will fall ill. Ear, chest, tooth, urine, and bowel infections (such as gastroenteritis) are all common afflictions for travellers, and can cause awful disruptions if reliable treatment is not available. Moreover, they will be exacerbated by ineffective or toxic medication purchased from unreliable sources.
Although antibiotics should be used sparingly, the need for safe medication when travelling cannot be understated, which is why we only offer them as part of a comprehensive travel medicine pack. Choosing to buy antibiotics online before you embark on a journey abroad, will ensure that you are never travelling without a secure treatment for a potentially debilitating condition.
Checking to make sure that food has been hygienically prepared, and that the water and ice is safe, provide an excellent first defense against bacterial infection. If you buy antibiotics online, then they are ready should you need them; of course, they should be taken with caution, but they should always be available to those who need treatment.