Antibiotic Resistance Becoming a Serious Threat to Modern Medicine

By Emily Murray

With all the medical breakthroughs we continue to see year in and year out, the thought that someday soon a sore throat could be fatal seems an unlikely  scenario to imagine.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) however, this may be the frightening reality as we are a society rapidly becoming immune to antibiotics.

This warning from WHO is hitting headlines hard this week as we must prepare for the reality that antibiotics are truly becoming less helpful for fighting infection.

Think about the amount of times you or your family have gone to the doctor for one thing or another and have been prescribed an antibiotic. It’s become common practice to treat any unknown ailment with a dose of antibiotics even in some cases when it’s likely a virus is the cause. Those who are hospitalized after surgery are given antibiotics to keep infection away as part of routine practice. Additionally, our meat producing animals are also given antibiotics to keep them healthy and growing at a rate that will produce the most meat possible and in turn, we digest these antibiotics as part of our meal.

When you look at the amount of times we have been in contact with antibiotics throughout our lifetime it sadly should come as no surprise that our bodies have become immune to many major medications. Imagine if doctors could no longer preform life saving surgeries because the risk of infection is high and can be fatal without effective antibiotics. Many are calling this situation an “end to modern medicine as we know it.”

The widespread use of antibiotics for conditions that typically will not respond to this type of medication was recently highlighted in a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study showed that there was virtually no difference in treating sinus infections with or without antibiotics. Additionally 95% of upper respiratory infections are now believed to be viral, meaning antibiotics are rendered useless but unfortunately they are still often prescribed. In fact, 20% of antibiotics are prescribed for sinus infections according to an article written by Dr. Marc Siegel for Fox News.

With more and more types of bacteria becoming completely resistant, we are rapidly heading back to the days of the 19th century where people died of simple infections we have up to now been treating effectively.

While this is a sobering account of where we are at with modern medicine, the hope is that if we can cut back on antibiotic use and cut it out of our meat products there may still be a chance for its continued use in the future. Perhaps with this recent scare in the forefront of the medical society’s minds we will be able to develop a new way to fight infection in the future.