Credit: © nobeastsofierce / Fotolia

Credit: © nobeastsofierce / Fotolia

This growing epidemic could kill 10 million by 2050

There are many health problems in the world like obesity, heart disease, depression. But there is one that’s often overlooked. This growing epidemic could kill 10 million by 2050: Antibiotic resistance.

The overuse of antibiotics is now an epidemic in the United States and it is creating antibiotic resistance.

They are prescribed for almost everything.

The issue with taking too many antibiotics is that they kill good bacteria in the gut, which makes it more difficult to fight infections in the future.

The immune system gets used to them and creates antibiotic resistance.

A report published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that in 2010, health care providers prescribed “258.0 million courses of antibiotics in 2010, or 833 prescriptions per 1000 persons.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is now reporting that the infectious organisms that antibiotics usually target have adapted to the drugs, because they have been used for so long.

When you get resistance for a common infection, it’s a big problem, which we’re sort of ignoring a bit like global warming,” said Dr. Colin Broom, the CEO of Nabriva Therapeutics, a biotech firm working on creating a new drug to treat bacterial pneumonia.

This growing epidemic could kill 10 million by 2050, and creating new drugs to defeat this problem has been challenging.

Because of antibiotic resistance, many pharmaceutical companies have even stopped developing antibiotics altogether.

What’s worse is that people do not see the threat, similar to climate change, because it does not affect them at the moment.

Research from George Washington University suggests the public is not equipped with the proper information about antibiotic safety, which causes patients to expect them, and drives doctors to prescribe them more.

Patients figure that taking antibiotics can’t hurt, and just might make them improve. When they come in for treatment, they are usually feeling pretty bad and looking for anything that will make them feel better. These patients might know that there is, in theory, a risk of side effects when taking antibiotics, but they interpret that risk as essentially nil,” said David Broniatowski, assistant professor in GW’s School of Engineering and Applied Science.

Though most patients don’t know about it, there are risks to taking antibiotics, such as secondary infections or allergic reactions.

More than half of the patients we surveyed already knew that antibiotics don’t work against viruses, but they still agreed with taking antibiotics just in case,” Dr. Broniatowski said. “We need to fight fire with fire. If patients think that antibiotics can’t hurt, we can’t just focus on telling them that they probably have a virus. We need to let them know that antibiotics can have some pretty bad side effects, and that they will definitely not help cure a viral infection,” he adds.

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1. “Patients Don’t Understand Risks of Unnecessary Antibiotics, GW Study Shows.” The George Washington University. The George Washington University, 15 Dec. 2014. Web. 1 Mar. 2017.
2. “Antibiotic / Antimicrobial Resistance.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 04 Mar. 2014. Web. 1 Mar. 2017.
3. “Germs Are Germs, and Why Not Take a Risk? Patients’ Expectations for Prescribing Antibiotics in an Inner-City Emergency Department.” Sage Journals. Medical Decision Making, 20 Oct. 2014. Web. 1 Mar. 2017.
4. “A Growing Threat Could Kill 10 Million People a Year by 2050.” Business Insider. Business Insider, 23 Feb. 2017. Web. 01 Mar. 2017.

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