Have we been taking antibiotics for years?


A publication in the British Medical Journal proposes that the duration of treatments should be shorter. For years, doctors, pharmacists, health authorities and many of us have said that one of the causes of the resistance to antibiotics extends is that patients stop taking them when they are better and do not finish the treatments. But is that true?

Do not complete the treatment, does it really generate resistance?

What generates resistances is the abuse of antibiotics.


The problem of antibiotic resistance is already a global threat

Resistance to antibiotics affects everyone, regardless of whether they are rich or poor, and that microbes do not distinguish between races or economies. Resistance to antibiotics has no ecological, sectoral or geographical borders. The data are increasingly worrying and demonstrate the existence of resistance to antibiotics, especially those used as “last resort”, in all regions of the world. Resistance is affecting many different infectious agents, responsible for common serious infections, such as septicemia, diarrhea, pneumonia, urinary tract infections, tuberculosis or gonorrhea. They are true superbugs in which it agrees that they are pathogenic and also resistant to antibiotics. The treatment of these diseases becomes increasingly difficult due to the loss of efficacy of antibiotics.

In addition, resistance to antibiotics prolongs hospital stays, makes diseases longer and increases the risk of having an invasive infection, increases medical costs and increases mortality. Many current medical practices, such as transplants, cancer chemotherapy or major surgeries, would be impossible without antibiotics. It is estimated that in 2013 there were 700,000 deaths attributable to antibiotic resistance in the world. Some have predicted that by 2050, 10 million deaths expected attributable to antibiotic resistance will be the main cause of death. We do not know if this estimate will be true, but what seems more likely is that antibiotic resistance will be the new 21st-century pandemic. Antibiotics are a finite resource and you have to use them precisely.


Antibiotics favor the proliferation of opportunistic pathogens

Most of the bacterial species that develop resistance to antibiotics and pose a threat are those that are called opportunistic pathogens: bacteria that we carry within us, which are part of our microbiota and that when we are healthy “keep at bay”, but when We are sick or our defenses are low, they can take the opportunity, proliferate and cause an infection. When we take antibiotics can decrease our normal microbiota and can promote the growth of these opportunistic pathogens that are usually resistant to antibiotics. Therefore, abusing antibiotics favors this type of infection.


The administration of antibiotics should be a “tailor-made suit” for each patient

It is also ignored that patients can respond differently to the same antibiotic. It should make an accurate diagnosis of the disease, ensure that it is a bacterial infection, know the sensitivity to antibiotics of the bacteria and prescribe the type of antibiotic, the appropriate dose, and duration of each case, in addition, to follow up of the patient to know how he responds to the treatment. The administration of antibiotics should be a “tailor-made suit” for each patient. This is already beginning to be done in hospitals when the patient is admitted, but 85% of antibiotics are prescribed in primary care in a preventive way, without following these guidelines and too many antibiotics are prescribed.


According to the BMJ, there is some evidence that stopping the antibiotic treatment before the prescribed is safe and away, in addition, to reduce the abuse of antibiotics. A recent clinical trial showed that using the disappearance of fever as a pneumonia data halved the average duration of treatments without affecting clinical success. The BMJ paper claims that more studies are needed to verify if this is true for other infections and treatments. He suggests that educational messages about antibiotics should emphasize the fact that resistance to antibiotics is mainly due to the abuse of antibiotics, and that it is not prevented by completing the treatments until the end. People should know that antibiotics are a precious and finite natural resource that we must conserve.

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