We know it can be difficult when germs like bacteria and fungi learn to fight back against the medicines designed to keep them in check. This is called antimicrobial resistance, and it’s a natural process that can unfortunately make some infections very hard – or even impossible – to treat. The problem isn’t just about exposure to antibiotics or antifungals; it’s also connected to the spread of resistant germs and their defense mechanisms .
It’s important to know that antimicrobial resistance doesn’t mean our body is impervious to antibiotics or antifungals. Rather, it means the bacteria or fungi causing the infection are not responding to available treatments with those medications. Bacteria can do this because they have developed strategies that let them survive exposure to those medications.
It’s not the bacteria themselves that are resistant. Instead, it’s their genes. These genes are known as “resistance genes,”  making bacteria stronger against specific drugs so they can thrive even when treated with previously effective drugs. As a result, the more we use antibiotics, the less effective they become at treating disease-causing bacteria.
What Factors Cause Antibiotic Resistance?
Many factors can be associated with antibiotic resistance. Knowing these factors can help us reduce the risk of antibiotic resistance.
- Overuse of Antibiotics
- Misuse of Antibiotics – Some people use antibiotics for conditions that can’t be treated with antibiotics. or do not take antibiotics as directed.
- Lack of Preventative Measures Taken to Avoid Infection – Many people do not take washing their hands and practicing preventative hygiene measures very seriously, then contract infections that must be treated with antibiotics.
Consequences of Antimicrobial Resistance
We are facing an increasingly concerning trend with antibiotic resistance on the rise everywhere. New forms of resistance are spreading far and wide, making it more difficult to treat infections such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, sepsis, gonorrhea, and foodborne diseases. This is especially true where antibiotics can be purchased without a prescription for use in humans or animals; we have seen an increased spread of drug-resistant bacteria in those places .
Even Resistance to One Medication Can Mean Trouble
It’s important to remember that bacteria and fungi don’t need to be impervious to all antibiotics or antifungals to cause serious problems. Take, for instance, the resistance to just one antibiotic – it can result in a range of adverse effects, like recovery times that may last months .
The global health crisis of antibiotic resistance can be combated if everyone plays their part in properly using antibiotics. This means knowing when and how to take them, taking them at the correct time, and not overusing them. If we misuse antibiotics, we risk antibiotic resistance. This means that certain types of bacteria become stronger against certain drugs. If this happens, it will be harder to treat diseases caused by these bacteria.
Crestone is a biotech company in Colorado that focuses on novel antibiotic development and research to combat antimicrobial resistance.
- “How Antimicrobial Resistance Happens.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 5 Oct. 2022, https://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/about/how-resistance-happens.html.
- “Where Antibiotic Resistance Comes From.” ScienceDaily, University of Gothenburg, 7 Jan. 2021, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/01/210107094601.htm.
- “Antibiotic Resistance.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/antibiotic-resistance.
- “About Antibiotic Resistance.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 5 Oct. 2022, https://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/about.html.