Antibiotic Resistance (Drug Resistance, Antimicrobial Resistance)

Antibiotic resistance is a growing health care problem. Are you at risk?

Antibiotics 101

Medical Author: Melissa Conrad St?ppler, MD
Medical Editor: William C. Shiel, Jr, MD, FACP, FACR

Mary thinks she may have a bladder infection.She makes the call to her doctor and is able get an appointment to come in and give a urine sample. Sure enough, bladder infection. Her doctor prescribes an antibiotic for the infection. Mary goes to the pharmacy, fills the prescription and as she is driving home, begins to think of questions that she should have asked her doctor about the antibiotic.

This scenario has run through many patients' minds. What are the side effectsof the antibiotic? How soon should I begin to feel better? What if I don't feel better after 4 or 5 days? When should I call my doctor? Should I be concerned about a rashor other side effects that develop while taking the antibiotic?

Antibiotics 101

Antibiotics are a class of drugs that treat bacterial infections by stopping growth of bacteria or killing the bacteria directly. It's important to remember that antibiotics are ineffective in treating infections causes by viruses, which include the majority of colds, sore throats(with the exception of streptococcus-induced, or so-called "strep throat"), coughs, and flu-like illnesses.

Quick GuideWhat Is a Staph Infection? Symptoms, Pictures

What Is a Staph Infection? Symptoms, Pictures

Drug resistance facts*

*Drug resistance facts Medically Edited by: Charles P. Davis, MD, PhD

  • Drug resistance means any drug classified as an antimicrobial that has been compromised or has reduced or no activity when used to treat certain microbes (viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites).
  • Antibiotics are medicines designed to kill or stop or slow growth of bacteria (and some fungi) while an antibacterial substance is designed to kill or slow bacterial growth.
  • MRSA and VRE are terms that describe specific types of antibacterial resistance; MRSA describes Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria while VRE describes Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococi.
  • Drug resistance occurs when microbes survive and grow in the presence of a drug that normally kills or inhibits the microbe's growth.
  • The history of drug resistance began with the development of antimicrobial drugs, and the subsequent ability of microbes to adapt and develop ways to survive in the presence of antimicrobials.
  • There are many causes of antimicrobial drug resistance including selective pressure, mutation, gene transfer, societal pressures, inappropriate drug use, inadequate diagnostics, hospital use and agricultural use of drugs.
  • Diagnosis of antimicrobial drug resistance is performed by lab tests that challenge the isolated microbes to grow and survive in the presence of the drug.
  • Treatment of antimicrobial drug resistance depends on the type of infection and what the patient and their doctor decide.
  • Prevention of antimicrobial drug resistance is aided by preventing the overuse and misuse of antimicrobials; infections can be reduced by a healthy lifestyle, hand washing, and other good hygiene methods
  • Antimicrobial resistance is a growing health issue because more resistant microbes are being detected and societal pressures often result in overuse.
  • Current problems with antimicrobial resistance are predominantly being detected in the following organisms and diseases: MRSA, VRE, E. coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter and in gonorrhea, pneumonia, tuberculosis, influenza, HIV, malaria and others

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Newsletters

Get the latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors