The over-reliance of antibiotics as a means to fight minor illness is one of the greatest concerns to those of us in the field of microbiology today, because without a change of attitude the future of mankind is bleak.
A recent article in the Daily Mail gives some alarming statistics showing a staggering level of irresponsibility by both medics and patients.
For instance, 51 per cent of patients who go to their doctor with a cough or cold are now prescribed antibiotics, with 97 per cent of patients who demand antibiotics from their doctors getting them.
This modern standpoint on common illnesses has to alter, because it is very much an ‘unhealthy’ approach.
In its simplest terms, antibiotics kill bacteria, whilst anti-virals kills viruses. However, it means antibiotics not only kill the infective bacteria, but also destroy good bacteria, which are required to stay healthy.
This over-reliance on antibiotics when they are not needed is leading to our immune systems building up a tolerance level allowing new mutations of bacteria for which there is no effective antibiotic defence.
Currently, there are around 25,000 people across Europe dying each year due to these new mutations and this figure will only get higher if the attitude towards antibiotics does not change.
There was a time when the common cough and cold were just taken as part of the rough and tumble of life. It may mean a few days of a runny nose and perhaps a lingering cough, but too many now blow it out of proportion.
According to the article, Britain is now the antibiotic prescribing capital of Europe with 28 per cent more antibiotics prescribed than in any other country, with this fixation costing £192 million to the NHS last year alone.
It is a change that is required by both the public and doctors.
We at the Taymount Clinic believe no patients should ever demand antibiotics and doctors should not hand them out in such a frivolous manner- they are too important.
Within the microbiological community, we have good reason to believe that within the next 20 years the antibiotics we currently use may be completely useless and scarily as things stand at the moment there are no new antibiotics in the pipeline.
It is indeed a terrifying situation and we at the Taymount Clinic will keep on trying to put the message across in the simplest of terms, and hope many others do likewise because if we all don’t sit up and take notice the future is very grim indeed.