Misuse of antibiotics in Jordan leads to bacterial mutations, antibiotic resistance

AMMAN — Many Jordanians are familiar with antibiotics like Zithromax and Amoclan. Associating these medications with common colds, they often resort to taking them without a doctors’ prescriptions. Doing so may lead to serious health risks.اضافة اعلان

Antibiotics are only used to treat bacterial infections. Bacteria are micro-sized organisms that enter our bodies and make us sick. In our lifetime, we are more likely to be infected by viruses than bacteria. Viral infections, like the flu or the common cold, cannot be treated with antibiotics. As such, most coughs and sore throats cannot be treated with antibiotics.

Self-diagnosis can also lead to serious health risks. Doctors must conduct tests to confirm and identify the type of bacteria that is infecting your body. These tests are crucial because not every bacterium can be treated with the same antibiotic. Bacteria range in complexity and structure, and each antibiotic works in a specific manner to help your body fight off the infection.

What is Antibiotic Resistance?

Antibiotic Resistance (AR) is a global concern. Bacteria, which are rapid-growing, mutating organisms, can develop defenses against our medicines in short periods of time. A popular example of this is the MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) case. Methicillin is an antibiotic developed in 1960, and it belongs to the penicillin class. It was a narrow spectrum antibiotic used to treat a small group of bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus). Within the same year, a strain of S. aureus became resistant to methicillin, effectively rendering the medication useless and ultimately obsolete.

Later, doctors started treating S. aureus and MRSA infections with vancomycin — an antibiotic that treats bacterial infections resistant to other forms of medication. Some resistance to vancomycin can be seen as early as 1988, but in 2002, the emergence of VRSA (Vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) threatened this medication’s effectiveness. Once a bacterium develops resistance, there is not much that can be done apart from controlling the spread of the strain and developing new antibiotics.

What causes AR?

AR is a multifactorial process that occurs through proper and improper use of antibiotics. However, the major cause of antibiotic resistance is inappropriate use.

Most people want a quick solution to feeling sick, but in reality, there is no easy fix. Treating acute infections requires time, and it is up to your body to fight off the infection. In healthy individuals, bacterial infections may be treated in a day, and symptoms may take up to a couple of weeks to subside if no antibiotics were used. Many common bacterial infections, such as sinus infections and some ear infections, do not warrant the use of medical intervention. However, if your symptoms worsen, you must visit a clinic or hospital.

Additionally, some people who previously had bacterial infections think they can retake the same antibiotic to treat their infection. This is commonly seen in people with urinary tract infections (UTI). UTIs are bacterial infections that are caused by different types of bacteria. Ciprofloxacin is prescribed to treat this condition, but the inappropriate use of this medication may cause further harm. As in the case of vancomycin, resistance to ciprofloxacin began to emerge in the Neisseria gonorrhoeae species. Overusing this medication may also cause different species of bacteria to become resistant.
Stopping the medication course prematurely due to an improvement in symptoms is detrimental to the fight against AR, allowing surviving bacteria to continue to multiply.

Abuse in Jordan

Abuse of antibiotics in Jordan is systemic and complex. In the medical field, pharmacies hold a large responsibility since a study found that 80 percent of people follow pharmacists’ advice. The study concluded that the public’s knowledge and awareness about the use of antibiotics and AR was generally poor.

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