Understanding Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotic Resistance pic

Antibiotic Resistance
Image: cdc.gov

Dr. Ashkan Khabazian serves as a clinical pharmacist in the Emergency Department of Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego. When assisting emergency physicians in choosing optimal drug therapies for infection, Dr. Ashkan Khabazian accounts for antibiotic resistance.

Before attempting to understand bacterial resistance to modern drugs, it is important to know what antibiotics constitute. An antibiotic is a medication that, upon introduction into the body, kills infectious bacteria.

Antibiotic resistance denotes evolutionary processes by which bacteria “learn” to defend themselves from drug therapies, rendering such therapies less effective or totally inert. One of the primary reasons bacteria are becoming increasingly nonresponsive to antibiotics centers on the overuse of these medications.

For instance, antibiotics are often prescribed to treat viral infections like colds. Antibiotics, however, have no effect on viral infections, but when a person with a cold takes an antibiotic, he or she exposes bacteria to the drug, giving the bacteria the opportunity to develop resistance.

Such development matters because if antibiotics become broadly ineffective, patients could begin dying from bacterial infections that were formerly curable. In light of this, the World Health Organization has called for action by the international community.