Every year, more than 35,000 people in Europe die from infections caused by bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, the European health service ECDC calculated. We have used antibiotics so lavishly since they were invented that many bacteria have found a secret way to make people sick despite antibiotics. “The great danger is that we may eventually run out of antibiotics that can fight normal infections. The number of different antibiotics on the market is very small: not much is being developed and no new antibiotics are being tested. Bacteria then become resistant. Also against reserve antibiotics, a last resort. Eventually you can die from a common cold.” says Tropical Bacteriology researcher Liselotte Hardy in De Morgen.
“The bacteria become insensitive to antibiotics. It’s kind of a genetic change in the bacteria. If a bacteria never comes into contact with an antibiotic, it will be sensitive and a cure will work. But when antibiotics are used, the bacteria will fight back and undergo changes. This increases the chance of survival of the bacteria in the long run, and that then becomes the norm. Those bacteria survive and reproduce.
“Resistance to antibiotics arises, among other things, from long-term or more frequent use of the same type of antibiotic. Resistant bacteria can also develop if used incorrectly, for example if antibiotics are used when they are not really necessary.”
“If you are prescribed a course of treatment, it is important to finish the entire course anyway. You get twenty pills and after ten you think: I feel better. But the bacteria are still in your body. If they are no longer attacked by antibiotics, they will reproduce. It is important to take the course to the end and make sure everything is gone. But the best thing is not to take an antibiotic if it is not necessary.”