Antimicrobial Agents and Bacterial Resistance
What Are Antibacterial Agents?
An antimicrobial agent is used to destroy microorganisms or prevent their growth. Antimicrobial medications are grouped based on the microorganisms that they can affect. For instance, antifungal drugs can treat fungi, and antibiotics fight bacteria. Microbicidal are agents that are able to kill microbes, and biostatic can inhibit their growth.
Antimicrobials can be used either for the treatment of infections (therapy) or preventing their occurrence (prophylaxis). Although antibiotics (antibacterials) are often referred to antimicrobials, it is not totally correct because antimicrobials affect different microbes, including bacteria, and antibiotics affect only bacteria.
What Is Bacterial Resistance?
Antimicrobial resistance means the ability of microbes (not only bacteria but also viruses, fungi, etc.) to eliminate the effects of antimicrobial agents. Bacterial resistance is the ability of bacteria to withstand the effects of antibiotics. If bacterial resistance to antimicrobial agents occurs, the infection cannot be treated with the chosen drug. Usually, bacterial resistance is called antibiotic resistance, because antibiotics are those antimicrobial agents that are used for the treatment of infections caused by bacteria.
The development of bacterial resistance and the use of antibiotics are closely tied. Just in several years after antibiotics started to be used widely, it became known that bacteria were able to resist the use of these medications. Moreover, the use of antibacterial has force bacteria to mutate more than usual. Mutating (a genetic change) is a natural process for bacteria, which accelerates under pressure. In simple words, bacteria adapt to new conditions to survive and find a way to eliminate the effects of antibacterials. There are different mechanisms that bacteria use for this purpose, which depends on the types of bacteria, the types of antibacterial agent, and other factors.
Today, scientists from different parts of the world work under antibiotic resistance because forecasts are not really optimistic. According to the research, in several years people will not be able to treat some bacterial infections with antibacterial medication used today.
What Are the Symptoms of Bacteria Resistance?
So, how it is possible to understand that bacterial resistance occurs? First of all, in case of the resistant to antibiotics, the infection will not be treated. You will experience no or little improvement. Usually, the effects of antibacterials are noticed in several days after starting using them, on condition that the medication works. If the bacterial infection is not fought after finishing the recommended course of the treatment, it may be the symptom of antibiotic resistance.
Another symptom of bacterial resistance is the regular occurrence of the same infection, which means that it was not treated properly in the first place. You should know that antibiotic resistance occurs on condition that you strictly follow the recommendations of your healthcare provider, meaning using the right dosage of the drug and undergoing the full period of treatment.
The Role of Right Diagnose in Treating Bacterial Infections
If antibiotic resistance is suspected, it is important to choose another medication for the treatment. It is very important to determine the causes of infection correctly; otherwise, you will be using antibiotic that will not work to treat infection but will destroy good bacteria in your body, reducing the ability of your organism to protect itself against invaders.
The symptoms of bacterial infections may be confused with symptoms of infections caused by other microbes, for instance, viruses. Unfortunately, today’s medical practice shows lots of cases of misuse of antibiotics, when they are prescribed for the treatment of viral infections.
Certain antibiotics do treat certain bacterial infections, but it is also important to choose the right type of antibiotic. There are different tests that can be used for determining which bacteria cause infections, allowing choosing the right medicine.
Also, there is antibiotic sensitivity testing, which allows determining which antibiotic will work, and which causes antibiotic resistance. The importance of these tests is hard to overestimate, and if you are recommended by your healthcare provider to take them, you should do it. In fact, if you are prescribed with antibacterial agents without going through special tests, you should ask your healthcare provided why he or she decides that you have a bacterial infection and which bacteria exactly has caused it. If the answers are not satisfying and based on “guessing,” you should insist on taking special tests confirming the presence of a bacterial infection and revealing its causes.
How to Prevent Bacterial Resistance
Although bacterial resistance is a global problem, you can do actions to help manage it, including the following:
- Do not use antibiotics if you are not prescribed with them;
- Use antibacterials only as prescribed by your healthcare provider, including using the right dosages and undergoing the treatment as long as it recommended;
- Try to avoid products with calcium and iron when you are undergoing the treatment with antibacterial, because the use of these products may result in poor absorption, which decreases the effects of antibiotics;
- Try to prevent the occurrence of bacterial infections by keeping your immune system strong and following the rules hygiene, such as of washing your hands regularly, using condoms, etc.