We’ve all heard the doctors say that we have to take the entire bottle of antibiotics. They warn that, if we don’t, the illness they set to battle could develop resistance, coming back resistant and more difficult to fight in the long run. However, some doctors have changed their stance, consulting that antibiotic prescriptions still work when taken less time than we have ever suspected. This news comes after a study that took a look at some of the most common bacterial infections, including urinary tract infections (UTIs), pneumonia, and skin infections.
Tradition Overruled Science
One of the main reasons why doctors are prescribing a long course of antibiotics is because it’s just always been that way. This “conventional wisdom,” as quoted by the President of the ACP, is not working anymore and, with proof from clinical trials, is not necessary. Instead of treating common infections in 10 days or more, the study found that some bacterias died with shorter antibiotic treatment. Extending courses and increasing dosage could have a detrimental effect on our battle against bacteria, making it last longer than necessary.
Effects of Longer Courses
Scientists recommend that the use of antibiotics requires the supervision of a medical professional. One of the main reasons bacteria can adapt to their settings is their cell cycle, reproducing and mutating at high rates. If the antibiotic doesn’t completely wipe it out then, there is a possibility that it can become resistant, able to withstand the treatment. While this is more common with patients who don’t take the entire course prescribed, there are cases where an extended treatment period just won’t cut it.
Additionally, the longer patients are ingesting antibiotics, the more at risk they are for losing healthy bacteria within the body. With extended antibiotic treatment, beneficial bacteria in the body become weak and die. The problem is, some of these essential bacteria could have aided the body in the battle against infection. A weakened bacterial count in the body could lead to further complications, increasing the probability that a re-infection could occur.
“Do I really Need This?”
Because of bacteria’s effects on the body, scientists urge patients to ask their medical professionals if antibiotics are needed. When looking at the rate at which doctors prescribe, it’s estimated that 30% of them are unnecessary, creating a huge issue. Asking this one simple question could keep patients informed and make doctors rethink their choice for fighting a bacterial infection.
Now, it’s becoming a battle of time. We all hope that scientists can create the next big thing before bacterial can adapt and evolve further. There are already many antibiotics that are ineffective against bacteria, and the number is expected to grow. We may see bacteria that are resistant to any form of antibiotic we have on the market. Total resistance could be dangerous for everyone that comes into contact or gets infected with the bacteria. We will all just have to wait and see.