Antibiotic Resistance

Last Updated: May 29, 2018

Definition - What does Antibiotic Resistance mean?

Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria develop the ability to survive the effects of antibiotics. Antibiotics and antimicrobials are substances that are used to treat bacterial infections in humans and animals. These drugs treat the infection by destroying or limiting the spread of the bacteria responsible for the illness. However, in some cases, the bacteria is able to survive the effects of the antibiotics and becomes resistant.

This resistance can develop in several different ways. In some cases, a bacteria mutates in a manner that renders the antibiotic harmless. For example, a mutation that alters the bacteria structure so that the antibiotic can no longer attach to the bacteria and destroy it. In other instances, bacteria exposed to antibiotics have developed the ability to eject the antibiotic before it can destroy the bacterial host. This often happens when patients do not completely eliminate a minor bacterial infection by ceasing to take medications before they finish the course of treatment.

Antibiotic resistance is sometimes referred to as drug resistance.

WorkplaceTesting explains Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotic resistance is becoming a serious threat to world health. As the number of drug-resistant bacteria increase, it becomes more difficult to eliminate the spread of the bacteria using antibiotics. This poses an increasingly serious health risk to the population. Once resistant, the bacteria and the diseases it causes are then transmitted to more individuals leading to increasing numbers of illnesses. Additionally, infections caused by drug-resistant bacteria may be difficult or impossible to treat effectively. These resistant strains are also negatively affecting health outcomes in hospitals and endangering patients undergoing what were once low-risk routine procedures.

To prevent the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria, researchers recommend that individuals only use antibiotics when necessary. For example, illnesses caused by virus should not be treated with antibiotics. Further, when antibiotics are prescribed, the entire dosage scheduled should be completed as directed. Bacteria that is exposed to antibiotics because of overuse or failure to complete treatment protocols can become resistant and spread.

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