When I first heard about the total ban on prescribing antibiotics to patients in China’s hospitals, I felt quite shocked. It was and still is a habit for me to go to a doctor and ask for antibiotics whenever I feel sick. So why, all of a sudden, the government is implementing measures against prevalent use of antibiotics?
Rumors about how antibiotics have been overused and are not doing any favor for our immune systems appear in the early 2010s. But how exactly they actually harm our immune systems still remain as a mystery for most of the common people. It is quite a shock to learn that the abnormal microbial flora is related to so many disorders in our body, for instance, metabolic disorders, obesity, oesophagus-related diseases(GORD), allergies and so on. While antibiotics are helping us defend against certain infections, they also wipe out other essential bacteria that might be helpful to maintain a stable chemical environment inside our bodies. By causing a mass distinction of those contigent bacteria, antibiotics put us at an even more vulnerable spot when we ever encounter food and other stuff that we have never encountered before.
The problem of superbug has already been floated around for about 10 years. Examples such as MRSA, and other strains of bacteria have been listed down to emphasize the proportion of superbugs among all the species. With such fast speed of rising of resistant-to-all-antibiotics bacteria strain, it might be not difficult to imagine a future that our healthcare improvement or put it simply, the manufacturing of new designs of antibiotics will be outpaced by the appearance rate of mutated superbugs. At the end of the day, we might face a situation that health facilities are not used simply because hospitalized or patients admitted are too sick to be cured.
One thing after I read this book that striked me most is that there ARE permanent damage for a child below age two to take antibiotics. The effect of antibiotics on a newborn is far beyond what I initially thought. A one-week-course antibiotics taken requires more than 4 years to have its effects eliminated from the body. What about children, who has not even acquired sufficient time to establish its full microbial repertiore before antibiotics wiping literally all the bacteria inside the body regardless of their effects? It is not just about resistance, but all-round life-long effects on various parts of the body. Overuse of antibiotics can cause autism, damage normal brain development, causing continuous reflux, early onset of Type I diabetes and so on. While antibiotics are helping us defending against certain plagues, they are triggering more rounds of other epidermics as well.
I guess what we need to do is to get rid of the idea of “germophobia” . It is and will never be possible to live in an environment whereby there is no bacteria or germ. We need to recognize that not bacteria is harmful, just like not all criminals are morally bad. Bacteria like H pylori have been proven to help us to prevent stomach acid from spilling over into oesophagus and safeguarding our immune response so that the system will not overreact when facing nuts and other sources of allergies. We need to accept the fact that epidermics are unavoidable when the world population density becomes higher and higher and it is unfathomably impossible to use antibiotics whenever we are sick just to get rid of the possibility of further infection. What we really need to do, is to allow sometime for the body machinery to combat the infection before taking antibiotics.
The loss of bacterial diversity is gradual but its devastating effects are well beyond what we have and will understand.