Liya Moges is a passionate and dedicated junior studying Biomedical Science, Business, and Law at Georgia State University. She works at Emory University Hospital supporting nurses and physicians on a Complex Medicine floor and uses this opportunity to shadow different physicians in different specialties. In her goal to educate the public about health issues and equal access to care, Liya joined Today’s Patient to address topics such as health and wellness, public health, and diversity inclusion in medicine.
Antibiotics have revolutionized medicine in more ways than we could possibly count, from saving lives from what used to be fatal infections, to fighting off small-scale infections like the common cold or flu. While it has provided our world with the solution to many health-related concerns, overuse and misuse have led to unintended consequences that threaten public health today. The emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and micro-organisms has rendered some of our strongest antibiotics ineffective, leading to an increasing risk of medical related complications. The term, antibiotic resistance, seems to define itself due to its forthcoming name however, it lives as a vague concept to those who may not know how it began.
What does Antibiotic resistance mean?
Antibiotic resistance, often referred to as antimicrobial resistance, is defined by the CDC as what happens when bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms develop the ability to defeat or resist the drugs designed to kill them. This means that the germs and bacteria are able to survive and continue to grow, despite efforts made to kill them via the use of drugs or medicine. This ability of microorganisms to survive is what makes an infection very difficult, or sometimes impossible, to treat.
What causes antibiotic resistance?
There isn’t one exact science that explains how bacteria or other forms of microorganisms evolve to become resistant to medical interventions such as antibiotics or medicinal drugs, however there is plenty of research that proves that the overuse and misuse of antibiotics are a large factor. Whether overuse or misuse is intentional or not, these two things can occur in several different ways. One way misuse can occur is when an individual is prescribed medication or antibiotics for things such as a viral infection because viral infections do not respond to these types of drugs. So by using an antibiotic for an infection that doesn’t respond or work with the antibiotic, you are essentially training the virus in your body to learn how to fight it off without any harm to the virus itself. Now, overuse can occur in the case of using antibiotics or other forms of medication to fight similar and recurring infections you may have. By using the same antibiotic again and again, the bacteria that is inside you will eventually evolve to withstand the effects of the medication you are using, and eventually the antibiotic you are using will be rendered useless against the evolving infection inside you.
Are there any large-scale consequences to Antibiotic resistance?
Antibiotic resistant bacteria, or other forms of microbial resistance have become a global public health threat with the potential to affect any individual at any stage or point in their life, regardless of your demographic. It can lead to longer hospital stays, increased healthcare costs, and even higher mortality rates for smaller scale infections. Many infections that were once treatable with antibiotics or other medications are becoming more difficult to treat, leading to the use of more invasive and riskier treatments. In today’s current world of public health, the World Health Organization has named antibiotic resistance one of the most significant threats to global health today, with future estimations leading scientists to believe that by 2050, it could be the result in almost 10 million deaths per year.
How is Science evolving to work around this issue?
Every day scientists are hard at work developing new antibiotics and exploring alternative treatments that can help combat antibiotic resistance. A new approach that scientists have recently begun to explore are the usage of bacteriophages, which are viruses that infect and kill bacteria. Another way scientists are approaching the problem of antibiotic resistance is the use of immunotherapy, which involves the use of the body’s immune system to fight off infections directly. Besides these direct inventive approaches, scientists are also exploring other options such as using existing antibiotics and making them stronger and more effective against the risk of resistance.
What can we do at home to prevent antibiotic resistance in ourselves?
In addition to the currently developing treatment options, individuals can take extra efforts to avoid the risk of becoming resistant to antibiotics and other medications by ensuring responsible use of antibiotics. As individuals, and patients in a healthcare setting, it is important to be mindful about misusing or overusing antibiotics. This means that you must be proactive in your personal health and take antibiotics when instructed by your primary health care provider, using the correct antibiotic for the specific infection you have, and only using your prescribed antibiotic for the necessary time allotted (such as 1 week, or 2 weeks) or mentioned by your provider.
It is essential that we all do our part to prevent the evolution and development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and preserve the effectiveness of these life-saving medications for future generations to come.
Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts for an extended period of time (more than 3 months), despite receiving medical treatment for it. Usually, chronic pain can be caused by a variety of conditions including arthritis, back pain, headaches, nerve damage, neuropathy, migraines, and more, and doesn’t necessarily mean that an individual is getting reinjured each time. While there is no absolute cure for chronic pain, there are many different types of ways, some of which are physical, to reduce symptoms and improve overall health and an important method to be mindful of is the role of nutrition.
How does Nutrition play a role in chronic pain management?
Research suggests that nutrition plays a crucial role in managing chronic pain. The right nutrients can help reduce inflammation, enhance immune function, and promote the production of pain-relieving hormones. A balanced and healthy diet that includes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats can help manage chronic pain symptoms effectively. Inflammation is one of the leading causes of chronic pain. Certain foods can trigger inflammation in the body, leading to increased pain and discomfort. On the other hand, an anti-inflammatory diet can help reduce inflammation, thereby reducing chronic pain symptoms. Foods that are rich in anti-inflammatory properties include fatty fish, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and leafy greens.
Vitamin D is another essential nutrient that plays a significant role in managing chronic pain. Research suggests that people with chronic pain tend to have low levels of vitamin D. Sunlight exposure is the best way to get vitamin D naturally, but it can also be obtained through foods like fatty fish, egg yolks, and fortified dairy products. Other important vitamins that can help with chronic pain are vitamins such as Magnesium (which improves muscle and nerve function), Vitamin B12 (which is essential for nerve function and red blood cell production), and Vitamin C (which helps reduce inflammation and promote tissue repair.
What are Holistic Approaches to chronic pain management?
In addition to nutrition, holistic approaches to chronic pain management can also be helpful. These approaches focus on the mind-body connection, incorporating techniques like meditation, yoga, stretching, and acupuncture to help manage chronic pain symptoms. Meditation can help reduce stress, which is a significant contributor to chronic pain. By practicing meditation regularly, people can learn to manage their pain better and improve their overall well-being. Yoga and generalized stretching can also be an effective technique for managing chronic pain by improving flexibility, reducing inflammation, and promoting relaxation. Acupuncture is another alternative therapy that can be helpful for chronic pain management and has shown to be effective in managing chronic pain conditions like arthritis, fibromyalgia, and migraines. It involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body, which helps stimulate the body's natural pain-relieving mechanisms, though it is important to consult with your primary care provider prior to receiving this type of care.
How do I know which approach works best for me?
Chronic pain can have a significant impact on an individual’s quality of life, which could lead to physical, emotional, and psychological distress and can be caused by the exacerbation of an existing or new onset of pain from either injury, surgery, infection, or disease. Chronic pain can be challenging to manage, and effective treatment often requires a multi-disciplinary approach that could include medication, physical therapy, and other therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy or acupuncture.
It’s important that you take your own unique condition into account and speak with your primary healthcare provider to see what is best for you, prior to taking any new supplements, or making significant changes to your diet!