Let me explain a common situation that can happen to any person in the US healthcare system. A young healthy male working in the finance industry gets the flu but hasn’t had time to get the flu shot. He goes to the doctor and requests antibiotics because he doesn’t have time to rest. He needs to be at work to do his job. The following week after a night of heated passion, he visits the doctor for a burning sensation and gets another prescription for antibiotics. A week later, his stomach is upset has constant diarrhea so his doctor gives him another prescription. This is nothing out of the ordinary for hard-working people. But there is a slight difference in this situation. This is a set-up for resistance from an antibiotic resistant bacteria, Clostridium difficile (C. diff).
C. difficile is a bacteria which causes colitis and is transmitted from person to person by fecal particles being exposed to oral openings. This bacteria has spores that are not killed by alcohol-based hand cleansers or routine surface cleaning. They can remain in most environments for long periods of time. Once spores enter your mouth, they are ingested and their ability to resist stomach acids allows them to bypass the stomach with ease. Once they are in your colon, they infection begins and spreads.
Every antibiotic prescription will actually affect your body specifically your gut (intestines mainly). Our guts are made up of healthy types of bacteria that help digest certain foods that the stomach and small intestine have not been able to digest. They help with the production of some vitamins and act as a barrier for our immune system against other microorganisms. This system ensures that the digestive system functions properly. Overall, most people have the same bacterial gut but there are always differences determined by our environment and our diet.
Each antibiotic (#antibiotic) dosage actually does a lot of harm to us. Although the specific ailment we have is treated properly, each dosage will kill off healthy bacteria in the gut. When bacteria resistance has been seen, hospitals will bring in the big guns so to speak. The antibiotics are called broad spectrum antibiotics and are used as a last resort. The reason is that broad spectrum antibiotics will kill every bacteria in the body including those located in your gut. All the bacteria in your gut won’t be killed off but the majority will. If you get to this point, there are 3 possible scenarios that can happen.
The first scenario is that the infection was stopped by the broad spectrum antibiotics (#broadspectrum antibiotic) and your healthy bacteria will begin to replenish itself and your digestive system returns to normal. This is the best case scenario. The second scenario is that the infection was stopped but you have to be administered cultured bacteria to restore the bacteria in your gut. Not so bad but you need a little help. The worst case scenario is the infection was not stopped and you killed off all the bacteria in your gut. This means that your body has become a breeding ground for a nasty infection. This can lead to death or removal of a large portion of your intestine but as a best case situation you are looking at intestinal inflammation and diarrhea.. Understanding what you are facing in terms of an infection is of the utmost importance to prevent the third scenario.
For those of you wondering which are on the broad spectrum antibiotics list, here are most well-known broad spectrum antibiotics. They inculde Ampicillin, Amoxicillin, Aminoglycoside like streptomycin, Carbapenems like imipenem, Augmentin, Tetracyclines, Chloramphenicol, Tiarcillin, Quinolones like ciprofloxacin and Piperacillin/Tazobactam combinations. The side effects of antibiotics like these can result in serious harm if not taken properly. The antibiotic side effects can include heart murmurs, palpitations, seizures, psychosis, depression, hallucinations, paranoia, insomnia, nightmares, dizziness, liver failure, jaundice, gastrointestinal bleeding, diarrhea, ulcers, vomiting, tendon bursting and ripping, jaw, arm or back pain, joint stiffness, neck and chest pain, aching all over, gout, kidney failure, urethral bleeding, blood clotting in lungs, shortness of breath, pulmonary edema (lung collapse), dermatitis, skin death, swelling of the lips, eyes, or face, fever, chills, blurred vision, eye pain, disturbed vision, hearing loss, dizziness, involuntary eye movements and a damaged sense of taste.
We have reached a point in our medical treatments options in which specific antibiotics used to treat certain bacteria have become ineffective. This is important in the sense that new antibiotics are not being developed fast enough to replace these specific antibiotics. The loss of effectiveness in the narrow antibiotics is not due to the loss of strength of the medication but rather in the resistance of the bacteria. The bacteria being treated for is no longer affected by the antibiotics. Some will classify it as a superbug due to its resistance but others will classify it as evolution since the bacteria has evolved in the environment it is living in.
Have you experienced any drug resistant bacterial infections?