LIVETODAY, FOR TOMORROW
7 things to know about antibiotics
Antibiotics are lifesavers. They have changed the landscape of the medical field and how it’s practiced.
When you’re feeling under the weather, your trusty antibiotic gets you alive and kicking again. But how clued up are you about that pill you’re popping? Here’s what you should know.
- Antibiotics can’t cure a cold or flu.
There is a common misconception that antibiotics can treat all types of infections. According to a recent survey conducted by the World Health Organization, two thirds of South Africans think that antibiotics are effective for colds and flu.
Antibiotics are only active against bacteria. Colds and flu are caused by viruses against which antibiotics have no effect. The more antibiotics you use, the higher your chances of developing resistant bacteria.
- Antibiotics are not completely metabolised in the body
Many antibiotics are not broken down and pass through the body intact. They enter the environment as waste and retain their ability to affect bacteria long after being excreted. This can stimulate antibiotic resistance, even after entering soil or water.
At the moment, antibiotics contribute significantly to the growing problem of active medical substances circulating in the environment.
- Antibiotics may weaken your immune system.
Because antibiotics cannot distinguish between good and bad bacteria, they get rid of both. Good bacteria are very necessary for a healthy, strong immune system and can help fight off infection. Without these beneficial bacteria, your immune system becomes weakened.
This makes you more susceptible to re-infection and puts you at a high risk of developing resistant bacteria, especially if you overuse or misuse antibiotics.
- Antibiotics may increase your risk of obesity.
As we know antibiotics often kill off both harmful and beneficial bacteria. This disrupts the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. Through this mechanism, antibiotics could cause you to put on weight.
Antibiotics can permanently alter the balance of bacteria in your gut. Studies show that obese people have different gut bacteria than slim people.
Antibiotics can also send confusing signals in regard to important hunger hormones, which can increase your appetite and body mass index (BMI).
- Green tea can boost the effectiveness of antibiotics.
Green tea can enhance the bacteria-killing activity of antibiotics.
Research shows that even low concentrations of this potent drink can boost the efficacy of antibiotics and reduce antibiotic resistance in bacteria.
It can also kill resistant strains of bacteria and help treat illnesses caused by bacteria that have developed antibiotic resistance.
- Eating meat can decrease the effectiveness of antibiotics.
Antibiotics are commonly used in animals. This can lead to the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria.
These bacteria can contaminate the meat, and by handling or eating the contaminated meat, resistant bacteria can spread to humans.
Resistant bacteria can cause severe illness and may make it more difficult to treat infection.
- No new antibiotics have been discovered recently.
Researchers haven’t discovered any new types of antibiotics since the 1980s. Developing new antibiotics has become too expensive, which has led to a lack of interest in antibiotic discovery.
This is a major threat to public health. With the slowed rate at which new antibiotics are being developed, we may run out of antibiotic options. Antibiotics will become useless and antibiotic resistance will be out of control.
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