We see these old bacterium develop new and insane “super-powers”, meaning these “superbugs”, are becoming more and more resistant with every new “superpower”. Whether it be hardening its cell wall, or the bacteria start to produce enzymes that eat the antibiotics, we are running out of options… Or are we?
As you may have seen in my first post, I have a genetic condition known as Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. In the short run of things, it means my collagen is not produced properly, and I am the human version of Elasti-girl or Gumby. However, I am part of the small percentage of EDS patients who also suffer from chronic infections, mine occur in my Kidneys and Bladder. Sadly, before I was diagnosed I had many symptoms of a UTI and so I went to my doctor and they ran a quick office test and told me I had a UTI. They then sent my sample to the lab, but never called me back saying that I never had an infection and to stop my antibiotics immediately. I was on 18 to 20 courses of antibiotics that I didn’t need and now, when I do have an infection, its one of three, E. Coli (pretty common, mine is a little drug resistant but not too badly), Klebsiella Pneumoniae (HIGHLY drug resistant) or Enterococcus (again HIGHLY drug resistant). Sadly I have started to have these infections more and more frequently, and a lot of the time I only have one choice for an Oral Antibiotics, and a handful of IV Antibiotics. So what should be a simple infection, now requires a hospital visit or home nurses coming to see me every day.
So what do people like me hope for? What do we do? How many times do we have to hear “If you continue down the road like this, you will die.” From doctor after doctor, before those DOCTORS do their due diligence? Thankfully it’s not going to be a long wait, because the FDA is spurting out new antibiotics in the past few years. While they are not widely used yet. I now have two new drugs, FRESH OFF THE LAB DISH, when I come into the hospital having a fever, back pain, and so many other discomforts that need to be helped.
But what if these drugs don’t work? Then we start to go into a very scary time for eventually the entire population. If every bacteria became drug resistant, simple cuts and wounds could become deadly. We would return to a middle aged period of medicine. Our front line defense would become ineffective and so many would suffer. Elective surgeries would be canceled due to a higher risk for infection, and people with sinus infections, pneumonia, or even a UTI, could possibly be facing a death sentence.
Yes there would be alternatives, like radiation and chemotherapy for infections, but how many people are going to be walking around slightly radioactive then? Cancer rates would sky rocket, and it just would not be plausible. Bacterial Resets, via fecal transplants, could be considered but even today it’s considered a controversial treatment and isn’t even offered at most major hospitals.
So what do we do now? How can we help? What can the healthy population do to help this alarming problem? Well thankfully its pretty simple. Take antibiotics only when you need them. Ask for cultures, yes even if that means they have to culture your boogers, that way you can be sure you are getting the correct antibiotic for the job. When you need antibiotics, FINISH the entire course, because when you don’t then you are putting yourself at an increased risk for acquiring drug resistant bacteria, through your own body. You could even write to your senator or congressman to push them for more antibiotics be let through the FDA, as new antibiotics are the most effective for the infections they treat because the bacteria has never seen them before! These few steps will not only protect yourself, but the sick, and people who really need these truly life saving drugs. I do not want to be one of the 23,000 annual deaths from a drug resistant infection, so please be careful and take care of yourself.
This article was written by Katie Moore, a writer for dusk magazine.