The medical terminology ‘antibiotics’ refers to any chemotherapeutic substance designed to kill or hinder the growth of microscopic organisms. Strictly going by the book, antibiotics should only be prescribed by doctors, when the patient is suffering from an infection caused by a bacterial pathogen.
However, many doctors prescribe antibiotics for conditions caused by known viral pathogens such the cold or bronchitis.Such medications are not only financially taxing for the patient but they also end up harming the immune system.
The human immune system includes certain tissues, organs, cells and enzymes. It plays a potent role in defending the body against disease. The elements of the immune system work together to create a disease fighting system that is more powerful than any possible medication. All medical discoveries in terms of medication or vaccines are simply meant to assist the natural immune system to perform better.
Although antibiotics are actually designed to help the immune system work well, this is so only when the usage is for a short duration. Studies show that long-term antibiotics actually suppress the immune system. There are several reasons that are responsible for the negative effects of antibiotics. Firstly, it is important to comprehend that actually antibiotics do not make the immune system stronger. They merely act as a replacement for one of its functions, which is destruction of harmful bacteria. However, just like an organ or a muscle that weakens when not in constant use, the same principal stands true for the immune system as well. Therefore, when an introduced agent does one of its jobs, the immune system performs that job feebly once the agent leaves the body. Thus, one must be careful with the consumption of antibiotics as they weaken the system, meaning that the patient is more prone to infection than before he or she took the antibiotics. Temporarily, the infection may be killed, but one can get re-infected easily. When this re-infection is combined with a more resistant strain of the bacteria that caused the original infection, it can be very difficult to deal with. This is why someone who takes antibiotics to cure a bacteria based disease may catch the same disease, only with more severe symptoms, at a later time. Secondly, antibiotics cannot differentiate between the harmful bacteria and helpful bacteria and cells. Therefore, they end up killing both kinds of bacteria. Certain strains of bacteria in the digestive tract are essential to digest food and produce healthy vitamins. The destruction of such bacteria results in vitamin loss, diarrhea, parasitic infection and the development of allergies. Thirdly, over the years, research in the field of Biology has highlighted that the evolution of bacteria, viruses, and hosts have more or less been in synchronization with each other. Every time a bacterium or virus became slowly stronger, the immune system has shown proportional reactions by becoming stronger as well. However, an over dosage of antibiotics can create stronger strains of bacteria that even a healthy immune system is not prepared to fight.
More than 25,000 different antibiotic products had been developed by the year 1965. There was a fanatical enthusiasm for their use. Diseases that used to be killers became no more than an inconvenience. According to researchers, today the constant use of antibiotics with humans and livestock is a leading factor in our growing inability to eradicate disease. The overuse of these ‘wonder drugs’ has improved the strength of our ever-evolving bacterial population because any remaining bacteria not overcome can become stronger through mutation resulting in antibiotic resistance and stronger bacterial opponents. Fortunately, with the hype of the negative implications of antibiotics, doctors today do not dole out antibiotics prescriptions as callously as they used to.
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