In the presence of antibiotic resistance, an antibiotic is ineffective against a bacterial infectious agent. On the one hand, this may be due to natural resistance, but on the other hand, it may also be an acquired resistance. For the bacteria, the acquisition of such resistance properties is a struggle for survival. The widespread use of antibiotics by humans therefore also leads to an increasing occurrence of corresponding resistance in bacteria.
Forms of antibiotic resistance
The following forms of antibiotic resistance exist:
- Production of proteins that knock out the antibiotics.
- Change in the cell wall structure so that the antibiotics can no longer penetrate.
- Transport of invading antibiotics from the cell.
- "Reprogramming" of antibiotics.
Here, the development of resistance depends strongly on which bacterium meets which antibiotic. The angina and scarlet fever, for example, (Streptococcus pyogenes) is still not resistant to penicillin, while various staphylococcal species have become fully penicillin resistant within ten years.
Consequences of antibiotic resistance
In the worst case, the occurrence of antibiotic resistance may cause a patient to die from a normally benign infection. In particular, infectious diseases that are introduced by long-haul travelers, are often problematic, since in these countries antibiotic resistance increasingly occur.
Spain and France in particular, as well as many other southern and eastern European countries now harbor a high antibiotic resistance rate of certain bacteria, especially against penicillins and against the antibiotic group of macrolides.
Treatments with antibiotics
Comparative country studies show that the number of resistant bacteria differ significantly depending on the frequency and type of prescription of an antibiotic. This should be considered by doctors and not too lightly prescribe an antibiotic. In Germany it was found in a study that in 50 to 70 percent of the cases examined antibiotics were wrongly used with regard to selection, dosage or treatment duration.
This may be due to lack of qualification but also due to a doctor's false therapeutic need for safety, and it is made easy by the wide availability of antibiotics with relatively few side effects. But only those who use antibiotics rationally can avoid resistance that leads to expensive, complicated and risky therapies.
Tips for protection against bacteria:
- Boil water while traveling as most bacteria die off at temperatures of 80 degrees Celsius.
- In case of illness, do not develop the expectation of getting an antibiotic prescribed.
- Do not break the therapy with an antibiotic idiosyncratically. This can otherwise cause the leftover pathogens to multiply again, which can lead to a usually worse relapse. In addition, there is a risk that after a "break from therapy" the remaining germs have developed strategies for survival, that is, resistances that make the antibiotic ineffective.
- Do not change the dosage of an antibiotic on its own or prolong the therapy idiosyncratically, and do not use open packs in "need".
- Do not shorten therapy with an antibiotic on its own. It can under no circumstances assume that all pathogens are already defeated. The last remaining bacteria can multiply again, and a re-infection can occur, against which only the ingestion of a more effective antibiotic helps.
- If you are worried that you have been infected while on holiday, you should immediately consult a GP and explain the situation to him.