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Are you Antibiotic Resistance?

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Are you Antibiotic Resistance?

Dr N P Singh (Internal Medicine)
Internal Medicine
Internal Medicine
Director - Medicine and Allied Specialties, Medical Advisor

Ah-choo! Bacteria and virus infections are seeping in? Are you practicing safe strategies like clean and safe drinking water, personal hygiene and vaccination to prevent diseases?

In the past few years, there has been a significant improvement in drug development. Despite this, the bugs have beaten us squarely in terms of survival of fittest. With our best efforts, we have tried to control the menace of infections incase infections worsens. Additionally, global mobility has increased international trade relations that have caused micro-organisms to spread rapidly to distant countries and spreading SARS and H1N1 etc. Few FAQs on rational use of drugs will help you understand broadly.

 What is rationale drug use?

Antibiotics are strong medicines used to treat infections, including life-threatening contagious diseases. Rationale and judicial use of the antibiotics is extremely important to contain the menace of multi drug resistance otherwise we may land in an era similar to pre penicillin era. Rationale use of medicine refers to use of an appropriate, efficacious, cost effective and safe drug for the right indication, in the right dose, right formulation at right intervals for right duration of time.

What is "antibiotic resistance?"

Usually, antibiotics kill bacteria or stop them from growing. However, some bacteria have become resistant to some types of antibiotics. This means that the antibiotics no longer work against them. A few kinds of bacteria are resistant to all antibiotics and are now untreatable.

What are the reasons for development of antibiotic resistance?

The fundamental reasons for the development of antimicrobial resistance are use of the wrong drug, incorrect dose and duration, and self medication. Thus, it develops resistance of a microorganism to an antimicrobial medicine to which it was previously sensitive. The inappropriate and irrational use of medicines provides favorable conditions for resistant microorganisms to emerge and spread.

Do antibiotics work against all infections?

No. Antibiotics only work against infections caused by bacteria, fungi and certain parasites. They don't work against any infections caused by viruses. Viruses cause colds, the flu and most coughs and sore throats.

How do you know when you need antibiotics?

The answer depends on what is causing your infection. The following are some basic guidelines:

  • Colds and Flu: Viruses cause these illnesses. They can't be cured with antibiotics.
  • Sore throat,Cough or Bronchitis: These can be caused by both bacteria and Viruses. Your doctor may decide to try using an antibiotic.
  • Ear infections: There are several types of ear infections. Antibiotics are used for some (but not all) ear infections.
  • Sinus infection: Antibiotics are often used to treat sinus infections. However, a runny nose and yellow or green mucus do not necessarily mean you need an antibiotic.
  • Dengue fever: Antibiotics are not required. Take paracetamol, adequate fluid and rest under mosquito net.
  • Acute diarrhoea in children does not require an antibiotic, but oral rehydration salts and clear instructions to parents.

What you need to know?

  • Never take antibiotics without a prescription.
  • Use antibiotics only when necessary; avoid self-medication.
  • Use the correct dose for the appropriate duration. Follow the doctor’s advice about the correct dosage regimen.
  • Do not stop antibiotics early when you feel better.
  • Do not keep any remaining antibiotics at home. Also, do not give antibiotics to any other person, even if the symptoms of illness seem the same.
  • A history of allergy to antibiotics should always be sought before administration.
  • Look at the expiry date of the antibiotic.
  • Do not use antibiotics for prevention of bacterial infection, except in specific instances to be decided by your doctor.
  • Do not obtain antibiotics directly from a chemist shop without a valid prescription of the doctor.
  • Practice good hygienic measures such as hand hygiene. 
  • Wash hands with soap and water, especially after using the restroom and before eating.