Between 1950 and 2012, the death rate from infectious diseases in Canada declined by 62% for men and 57% for women. While most of the improvement was the result of public health efforts, such as routine childhood vaccination, improvements in food safety, access to potable water and improved sanitation measures, Canadians also benefitted immensely from the use of antibiotics. However, the use of antibiotics for infection control requires careful consideration, education, and appropriate administration.
What Is Antibiotic Resistance?
Antibiotic resistance is caused by the inappropriate use of antibiotics in humans, animals and agriculture, making it harder to fight infections, leading to more and longer hospital stays, which increase health care costs. Be informed that rates of resistant gonorrhoea infections, one of the most commonly sexually transmitted diseases in Canada, have also risen over the past decade. Now, more than 50% of gonorrhoea infections are due to bacteria that are resistant to at least one antibiotic.
Your Immune System and Your Microbiome
Your body has an in-built defense mechanism to fight off infection and antibiotics. Antibiotics only work against infections caused by bacteria. Antibiotics can’t make you feel better when you have a:
- other viral illness
Oftentimes, infections caused by bacteria or viruses will go away on their own. In fact, 7 out of 10 people feel better within a week, whether or not they use antibiotics. 9 out of 10 people feel better within 1 to 2 weeks. But antibiotics also have side effects and can destroy the normal bacteria that make up your microbiome that help keep you healthy.
While antibiotics cannot treat infections caused by viruses, there are some things you can do to get symptom relief. The CDC (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention) offers an extensive list for how antibiotics help treat common infections.