Antibiotic Resistance in Germs Has Doubled in the Past 20 Years

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There are so many things to worry about these days, but if you’re a germophobe (like my husband) or someone obsessed with the idea that we’re all going to die in a pandemic (like me), then you’ve probably spent at least some time wondering what’s going to happen when antibiotics stop being widely effective.

I mean…the world before antibiotics was a pretty harrowing place.

And now, research is finding that the number of cases in which people experience infections that are resistant to antibiotics is sharply on the rise.

Preliminary findings, which were presented at United European Gastroenterology Week Barcelona 2019, focused on conditions related to the Helicobacter pylori bacteria – gastric ulcer, lymphoma, and gastric cancer – and found that resistance to the typical antibiotic treatment has risen to nearly 21.6% (from 9.9% in 1998).

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Similar rises have been seen with other common antibiotic treatments.

Antibiotic resistance happens when bacteria evolve a tolerance to the drugs we use to eliminate them from our bodies body. Recently, the issue has gotten attention from the WHO, as well as national and regional health organizations in the U.S. and the EU.

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Right now, around 56,000 people die worldwide every year when antibiotics fail to treat their infections. Of course, according to this research, we can expect that number to rise, says lead author Francis Megraud.

“With resistance rates to commonly used antibiotics such as clarithromycin increasing at an alarming rate of nearly 1% per year, treatment options for H. pylori will become progressively limited and ineffective if novel treatment strategies remain undeveloped. The reduced efficacy of current therapies could maintain the high incidence rates of gastric cancer and other conditions such as peptic ulcer disease if drug resistance continues to increase at this pace.”

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Not being able to counter the effects of H. pylori is especially telling – and bad, as children are often the ones infected.

“The findings of this study are certainly concerning, as H. pylori is the main cause of peptic disease and gastric cancer. The increasing risk of H. pylori to a number of commonly-used antibiotics may jeopardize prevention strategies.”

If you’re worried about yourself or your family, the best thing you can do is not take antibiotics for infections that are likely viral, not all that bothersome, or will run their course on their own without excessive discomfort.

Easier said than done, I know, but you’ll be toughing out a lot worse if these bacteria evolve faster than we do.

Real talk.