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Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotics are drugs that are used to kill or slow the growth of bacteria and certain fungi. Antibiotics are ineffective in treating viral infections. Antibiotic resistance is defined as a change in bacteria that allows them to grow in the presence of a drug that would normally slow or kill them. These antibiotic-resistant bacteria and fungi become more difficult to treat, increasing morbidity.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 2 million antibiotic-resistant infections occur in the United States each year. Antibiotic-resistant infections, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), can result in longer hospital stays, higher treatment costs, and more deaths.

Antibiotics are used to kill bacteria that cause illness and disease. They have made significant contributions to human health. Many diseases that used to kill people can now be effectively treated with antibiotics. Some bacteria, however, have developed resistance to commonly used antibiotics. In the presence of an antibiotic, they can survive and even multiply. Most pathogenic bacteria can develop resistance to at least some antibiotics. Multi-resistant organisms (MRO) are bacteria that are resistant to multiple antibiotics.

Antibiotic resistance is a major public health issue. It can be avoided by reducing unnecessary antibiotic prescribing and overprescribing, using prescribed antibiotics correctly, and practicing good hygiene and infection control. The more antibiotics that are used, the more likely it is that resistance will develop. Antibiotics are sometimes used when they are not required. Antibiotics, for example, are ineffective against viruses. Viruses, like bacteria, are tiny organisms that can infiltrate your body and cause infection. A virus is what causes a cold or the flu. In these cases, taking an antibiotic does not cure the disease. It may actually increase the likelihood of antibiotic resistance. If you stop taking it too soon, you may not be able to eliminate all of the bacteria, and the remaining germs may become resistant.

The most serious issue with antibiotic resistance is that some bacteria have developed resistance to almost all commonly available antibiotics. These bacteria are capable of causing serious disease, which is a major public health concern.

Bacteria are living organisms with the ability to change over time. They reproduce and spread quickly and efficiently, and they can adapt and change to ensure their survival. When exposed to an antibiotic that inhibits their ability to reproduce, genetic changes can occur, allowing the microbe to survive.

A culture and sensitivity test can be used to determine which microbe is causing an infection and which antibiotics the microbe may be resistant to. However, diagnostic tests can often take days to weeks to produce results because many tests require the microbe to grow over time before it can be identified. Blood, urine, stool, sputum, tissue, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), or mucus from the nose, or throat may be collected. To determine the organism responsible for the infection, samples may be stained and examined under a microscope, cultured (allowed to grow), or tested for antibodies, antigens, or genetic material (such as DNA or RNA) from the microorganism.

In many cases, treatment decisions must be made before test results are available, and healthcare providers may prescribe broad-spectrum antibiotics when a more targeted treatment would be preferable. A doctor will determine when and how antibiotics should be used.

A doctor can prescribe a different, more appropriate antibiotic that is more effective against that organism if you have a bacterial infection that is resistant to a specific antibiotic.  Follow your doctor’s prescription medication instructions exactly to avoid antibiotic resistance. Even if you feel better before finishing the antibiotics, take them all the way through. Never share your medications with others, and never take medication prescribed for someone else.

The less frequently you get sick, the less frequently you may need to take antibiotics. The less frequently you use antibiotics, the less likely it is that your infections will develop antibiotic resistance. A healthy lifestyle that includes proper nutrition, regular exercise, and enough sleep can help your immune system stay healthy.

At DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, we represent injured clients and their families throughout Upstate New York, including Syracuse, Rochester, Albany, Buffalo, Elmira, Binghamton, Auburn, Ithaca, Oswego, Norwich, Herkimer, Delhi, Cooperstown, Cortland, Lowville, Oneida, Watertown, Utica, Canandaigua, Wampsville, Lyons, and surrounding areas.  Please call us at 833-200-2000 or contact us via our online form to discuss your case.

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