Prior to that infections caused by bacteria could be fatal. Many people died because of bacterial infections that their own bodies couldn't fight off. Strept throat, bladder infections, bronchitis, ear infections, STDs, you name it, have all been treated with antibiotics for decades.
The trouble is that bacteria are smart organisms and over the last few decades have learned how to fight back against these very same antibiotics that used to do them in. Now the bacteria have developed resistance and aren't affected by antibiotic use. It happens when people are exposed to multiple courses of the same antibiotic repeatedly or to people who have been hospitalized for a long time and picked up microbes who have learned to adapt and resist the first-line of antibiotics.
This has led to organisms capable of wreaking havoc in the body, with scary names like MRSA- Methicillin resistant Staph Aureus, which simply means that this strain of Staph is resistant to methicillin and keeps reproducing.
What Health Care Providers are Doing:
- We are prescribing fewer antibiotics than previously
- We've improved our diagnostic skills and can distinguish between colds, viruses, the flu all caused by viruses and bronchitis caused by a bacteria, and
- We aren't treating viral infections with antibiotics because they won't work anyway and repeated exposure can lead to resistance.
What You Can Do:
- Remember that antibiotics only work against bacterial infections
- Some illnesses are caused by viruses and antibiotics won't be effective, so don't take a friend's medication or insist upon antibiotics from your health care provider, and
- Do take your medications as prescribed and for the prescribed time