Doctors fear antimicrobial resistance has begun after years of worry

Published: Nov. 21, 2022 at 7:09 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Some medical experts consider it the biggest challenge of our lifetime. The CDC says our overuse of traditional antibiotics leaves us vulnerable to even deadlier infections.

As the world around us changes, so do the antibodies in our system. UW Health expert Michael Pulia, who is their assistant professor in emergency medicine says, over time the antibiotics we receive become less effective and our bodies get used to them.

“Antibiotics that traditionally work are no longer effective and then we have infections that are very difficult to treat,” said Pulia.

Resistant bacteria is a hot topic within the medical community. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claims the antibiotics we use aren’t as effective and drug-resistant “superbugs” can easily sneak up on us.

“The pipeline, as we call it, for antibiotics is dwindled over the years but there’s been a resurge in interest of, okay this is a problem, like the amount of new anti-biotics that are coming out are not that frequent,” he said.

Pulia believes we’ve over-prescribed antibiotics for flus and colds - but those drugs aren’t required and it only lessens their effectiveness to other types of bacteria.

“You’re having a surgery. You get a little antibiotics around the time of the surgery to prevent post-surgical infection,” he explained, “could that become a problem where routine minor surgeries become life threatening infections.”

Pulia says patients should feel empowered when it comes to their health. They must talk to their medical providers before putting something in their bodies that they don’t fully understand it’s intended purpose or the long-term impact.

“But when it comes to antibiotics, they really should be reserved for those true bacterial infections and that diagnosis can be tough sometimes and sorting it out,” Pulia said, “And that’s where that, in those gray cases that’s where we have those conversations about ‘okay when is the time to start it and we watch and wait and see how it goes.”

He says doctors and researchers always knew bacteria would eventually develop resistance. They just didn’t know when; he says that time is now.

Experts with UW Health say finding alternatives to antibiotics is important just in case your body does resist the medicine.