The advent of antibiotics in modern medicine had empowered and gave medical practitioners an upper hand in the fight against bacterial infection. Innovations in medical science and technology have allowed physicians to improve their effectiveness in saving the lives of people.
However, the “antibiotic miracle” is also the reason why new strains of antiobiotic-resistant bacteria have emerged. Unsupervised use of antibiotics have allowed certain bacteria to adapt to the active ingredients and develop resistance. These powerful strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria present a menacing threat and danger to the health and lives of the general public. Developing “next generation” antibiotics has become a formidable challenge for those in the medical and pharmaceutical professions.
What is a Bacteria?
Bacteria are single-celled microorganisms that have the ability to reproduce through cell-division. These are minute living organisms that looks like balls, rods, or spirals when seen through the microscope and can grow on any non-living surface which may not necessarily pose any danger to your health. Some bacteria are even beneficial to one’s health such as Lactobacillus Acidophilus. This particular bacterium helps in the digestion of food in your stomach and fights some disease-causing organisms. It can also give some nutrients to the body. In fact, some bacteria are being used to make health foods like yogurt and cheese.
But there are certain strains of bacteria that when they get inside your body, you will become ill. This is called bacterial infection. These wide variety of bacteria brings about infections which range from mild to life-threatening diseases. Bacterial meningitis is an example of bacterial infection that needs immediate medical attention. Infectious bacteria, like Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, and E.coli, can mutate rapidly and produce chemicals called toxins that can destroy the cells and tissues in your body. Severe gastrointestinal problems from contaminated food is caused by E.coli while gonorrhea is brought about by gonococcus bacterium. Some infections are considered contagious such as strep throat and tuberculosis. However, infections of the heart valves (endocarditis) or bone (osteomyelitis) are not considered transmissible. Common bacterial infections include pneumonia, ear infections, diarrhea, urinary tract infections, and skin infections.
Everywhere you go, there are a multitude of microscopic invaders which include bacteria, viruses, parasites, and other infectious organisms that can be found in the air that you breathe, in drinking water, or in the water that you use for washing the dishes, and that which you use in taking a bath. It can also be found in the soil, your plants and pets, on your food, and even in your own body. Although every human being is exposed to these countless bacteria, some of us are at higher risk of infection than others. Aside from a weakened immune system, there are also other risk factors for bacterial infection and illness.
Age – Younger people are more susceptible to bacterial infections caused by Escherichia, better known as E.coli while older people are at an increased risk of lower respiratory tract infections from a bacteria strain called Streptococcus Pneumoniae.
Nutrition – Malnutrition affects functions of the immune system. A balanced diet of nutritious foods, minerals, and vitamins is needed by the body to keep it healthy and strong against infections.
Genetic Predisposition – Research reveals that some people are genetically susceptible to infections but hopefully, with the use of genetic testing, researchers can come up with drug therapies to target genetic defects.
Antibiotics and Bacteria
Antibiotics are powerful medicines that stop bacterial infections by killing the invading bacteria or stopping it from growing without harming the host. The effectiveness of antibiotics may vary depending on the severity of the illness, site of infection, immune status of host, and the resistance factors of bacteria.
Different antibiotics work in different ways. While Vancomycin and Penicillin discourage formation of bacterial cell walls, other antibiotics such as Erythromycin, tetracycline, and chloramphenicol prevent protein synthesis. Moreover, other antibiotics like Sulfa drugs inhibit bacterial metabolism while Ciprofloxacin and Rifampin interferes with DNA synthesis. Polymixin B interferes with cell membrane permeability.
Prevention and Treatment
In order to protect yourself from getting these infections and illnesses, you must first understand the distinction between the two. Infection comes first before you get the disease. Infection happens when these bacteria or other microorganisms enter your body and begin to reproduce by mutation, damaging the cells and tissues in the process, thus, causing you to be ill. Your immune system begins to respond to infection by allowing the white blood cells and antibodies to work against whatever is causing the infection. So, avoiding areas where you could possibly get infected is a must.
There are several practical ways to prevent infections from happening, thus, staying disease-free. Simple regular hand washing with soap and water before meals, after coughing and sneezing, after using the toilet can rid you of most germs. In the absence of soap and water, there are alcohol-based hand-sanitizing gels that are available for protection. Vaccines are proven to be effective in warding off a lot of disease. Though vaccines are given as early as childhood, there is still a need for adults to be vaccinated for new illnesses. Medicines such as anti-parasitic drugs can protect you from getting malaria while travelling. Over-the-counter drugs such as antibiotic creams can minimize infections due to minor cuts and injuries.
Always consult medical professionals for advice. Your doctor can perform diagnostic tests to find out if you’re infected, the seriousness of the infection, and how best to treat that infection. Finally, always maintain a healthy immune profile to reduce susceptibility to infections and diseases.