As one of the greatest turning points in the history of medicine, the discovery and development of antibiotics have been thoroughly studied all through these years. After penicillin was discovered by Alexander Fleming, it has been used extensively during the Second World War and wounded people have been saved from bacterial infections through the use of antibiotics. There are a lot of diseases and infections that it can cure. Though that is not the case anymore. The widespread use and misuse of antibiotics in medicine has led to the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria, and infections have been harder to treat.

A huge number of the public still believe that antibiotics can treat any sickness or infection. It is still common for these people to take antibiotics without proper prescription. Having this misconception towards antibiotics has resulted in an alerting world health problem called antibiotic resistance. November 18 to 24 is an Antibiotic Awareness Week in Canada. It is a campaign that started to raise awareness about this health issue and to spread knowledge regarding the consequences of antibiotic misuse.

Antibiotics are indeed useful in the field of medicine. Though, often and incorrect use of antibiotics can cause bacteria to develop antibiotic resistance. This is a defence mechanism that allows the bacteria to mutate, survive, and multiply. If this happens, bacteria will no longer be effective in killing the bad bacteria in your body. If you use antibiotics too often, or incorrectly, the bacteria may develop antibiotic resistance.

In dental care, antibiotics are needed and used in two ways. The first one is to fight the current infection that is currently happening in your oral cavity. The second one is to prevent infection before undergoing dental procedures and surgeries.

Dental professionals do not recommend the use of antibiotics in alleviating slight pain caused by tooth decay. Most people will grab this kind of medicine without thinking about the risks. Antibiotics cannot cure toothache. Even in tooth problems, like tooth abscess, where pus is involved, antibiotics are really not necessary.

The emergence of antibiotic resistance threatens to bring us back to the time when people did not have antibiotics. It was an era where man’s life expectancy was short and the leading cause of mortality was bacterial infections. If people in current time will still not change their behaviour and thinking about antibiotic abuse, it is estimated that by 2050, 10 million people will be dying due to infections because of drug-resistant bacteria. Pneumonia, gonorrhea, tuberculosis, urinary tract infections, salmonellosis and typhoid are some of the hard-to-treat diseases that are rampant nowadays.

This campaign, Antibiotic Awareness Week, is definitely important in society nowadays. People should be more cautious about the medicines they are taking. Because it does not only affect their bodies, it affects other people too who can be at risk of these infections. The younger generations will be the ones who will be suffering. If antibiotics become ineffective in the future, people who will be needing medical treatments will be at high risk. Those who are required to undergo chemotherapy and surgery are prone and at risk of acquiring infections that can eventually end their lives. This should not happen as antibiotics were made and developed to save lives.

To help raise awareness and spread knowledge about antibiotic resistance, it is always better to educate yourself and start practising what you have learned. Know that it is important to visit and consult your physician before consuming any type of medicine. If a medicine works with another person, it does not mean it will have the same effect on you. Do not believe everything you read on the web. Home remedies are great but do not self-medicate. If you are given antibiotics by your doctors or pharmacists, follow their instructions diligently.  There is a reason why you cannot buy over-the-counter antibiotics as they will not be effective if not used properly. This is a common mistake that most of us make. Always follow what the prescription says because doing otherwise will create more harm in your body.

With a few clicks, you can access hundreds of sites that have reliable information about antibiotic resistance and antibiotic misuse. There are scientific journals, news, blogs, interesting quizzes, and educational posts all over the web. These sources can be a great help in making you and other people understand the risks and repercussions of unnecessary use of antibiotics. Through social media, you can also share this with your family and friends. You can help make the world a better place to live in for future generations. This antibiotic awareness campaign can help in reducing the number of people who have incorrect perceptions and knowledge about antibiotics. To know more about antibiotic misuse and this week’s campaign, check out antibioticawareness.ca.