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The Unseen Dangers of Antibiotic Overuse and Bacterial Evolution

Saturday, November 25th 2023 10:00am 3 min read
Dr. Jessica Peatross dr.jess.md @drjessmd

Hospitalist & top functional MD who gets to the root cause. Stealth infection & environmental toxicity keynote speaker.

C. diff is a bacterium present in many individuals’ digestive systems. However, its proliferation can be disrupted by antibiotic intake. This bacterial imbalance poses significant risks, especially to the elderly and those with weakened immunity. Amplifying concerns regarding unwarranted antibiotic prescriptions, Pew reported a 15% surge in infections and fatalities from drug-resistant bacteria during the initial year of the COVID-19 pandemic, probably due to increased inappropriate antibiotic consumption.

Antibiotics: Caution Advised

A 2020 research article in JAMA Network Open presented a notable discovery: the negative outcomes were notably worse for individuals who were administered antibiotics without a genuine need. Analyzing 2.8 million children prescribed antibiotics, the research determined that children given unnecessary antibiotics faced a three to eight-fold increased likelihood of contracting C. diff infections. This group also displayed a heightened probability of experiencing other digestive issues and severe allergic responses.

Bacterial Adaptations and Misunderstandings

Antibiotics are designed exclusively for bacterial infections. Yet, many are prescribed for conditions with different origins, such as viral ailments—cold, flu, COVID-19, coughs, certain ear and sinus issues, and gastrointestinal upsets. Alarmingly, a study involving 1,705 COVID-19 patients revealed 56% were administered antibiotics, though merely 3.5% showed a verified bacterial infection. During the pandemic’s early phase, hospital antibiotic use for the virus fluctuated between 27% and 84%, as cited in a 2021 Clinical Infectious Diseases article.

Bacteria have numerous ways to combat antibiotics. One method involves forming a robust outer layer that repels antibiotics. Alternatively, they may alter their internal components that the antibiotic usually attacks. And these are just a few of the possible adaptations.

Bacteria are incredibly adaptable, and their resistance mechanisms to antibiotics can vary significantly. Different regions can observe unique antibiotic resistance patterns due to these adaptations.

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