Eastern Mediterranean University (EMU) Dr. Fazıl Küçük Medicine Faculty and Marmara University Medicine Faculty Infectious Diseases and Clinical Microbiology Department academic staff member Dr. Buket Ertürk Şengel released a statement relating to the 18th of November, European Antibiotics Awareness Day. The statement released is as follows:
Why are antibiotics this important?
Antibiotics are a type of medicine used to destroy disease causing bacteria or to prevent their reproduction. They are of the utmost importance in cases of serious infection. However, incorrect use can lead to undesirable effects.
Before starting antibiotic treatment it must be established whether or not patient complaints are resulting from an infection. Next, it must be established whether or not it is bacteria that is causing the infection. For example, not every patient that witnesses a sting when urinating is suffering from a urinary tract infection. There could be other explanations such as a kidney stone or anatomic failures. If the complaints are resulting from an infection whether or not the infection is being caused by bacteria must be ascertained. Antibiotics are for bacteria. Antibiotics shouldn’t be used in cases viral infections such as flu, hepatitis and laryngitis.
Generally, treatment in cases where the infection is bacterial begins after a culture test that is carried out to predict the bacteria causing the infection. After 48-72 hours another evaluation should take place using the test results to select the antibiotics best suited to the bacteria which can now be named. If not necessary the antibiotic treatment can end. So what happens if we use antibiotics incorrectly or when not necessary?
Incorrect use of antibiotics can cause unwanted side-effects and diarrhea. It can also lead to serious problems such as the emergence of resistant microorganisms. Whether or not to use antibiotics should be decided by evaluating the case of each patient separately. The antibiotic used for infections changes depending on the location of the infection. Different antibiotics can be given to people with the same infection.
The choice of antibiotics must be made carefully with the knowledge of heart, kidney and liver functions of the patient as well as allergies. The dose also has to be adjusted correctly. Another big problem is the resistance problem. If resistance forms against an antibiotic it means that the said antibiotic is now ineffective. If the antibiotic cannot treat the infection it is meant to treat the consequences can be deadly. The bacterium that gains resistance can transfer this resistance via genetic material to other bacterium in the region, leading to most bacterium in the region gaining resistance. Therefore the antibiotic does not affect the bacteria and this can lead to a long hospitalization period of the patient and even to death. The risk is greater for patients with a damaged immune system. With the spread of resistant bacteria the number of affected people can increase. It must also be noted that unconscious use of antibiotics in agriculture and livestock can increase resistance of bacteria.
If unconscious usage cannot be prevented resistant bacteria will increase and current antibiotics will no longer be effective, resulting in no treatment method for infections. For this reason it is very important that experts decide whether or not antibiotics are necessary in individual cases.