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Causes of Antibiotic Resistance

Drug resistance, especially to antibiotics, is becoming a serious problem for public health policy makers the world over, both in developed as well as developing countries.

Common causes of increasing antibiotic resistance are:

1. Self-medication by patients for a variety of common diseases

2. Using antibiotics as a first line of defence, instead of as a last resort

3. Inappropriate use i.e of a broad-spectrum antibiotic instead of more targeted drug

4. Taking sub-optimal doses i.e less than the amount needed to completely kill the bacteria

5. Stopping medication without completing the dosage

6. Industrial-scale animal farming

Points 4 and 5 are especially common reasons in India. Due to price concerns, patients many a time stop taking medicines as soon as they get initial relief from the symptoms. This results in the bacteria not being fully eliminated from the body and could lead to mutant strains that are able to resist the antibiotic. “What does not kill me, makes me stronger” – Nietzsche

Point 6 is a problem in countries like the US where an estimated 70% of all antibiotics are given to animals that are bred in close proximity. Using antibiotics to speed up growth of already healthy animals could lead to development of resistant strains.