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Do you line up every winter to get your flu shot? Some people feel better getting their vaccinations and taking antibiotics while others have their reservations. There’s merit to both sides, as antibiotics could be causing bacteria to get stronger and more drug-resistant.

The Point of Antibiotics

The human body contains white blood cells, which work to keep our immunity high and fight against pathogens, such as viruses and infections. However, there are instances in which white blood cells can become overwhelmed. They need backup, and that’s where antibiotics come in. Antibiotics assist white blood cells in fighting off pathogens and boosting our body’s natural defenses. They defend us against harmful bacteria that may otherwise make us much sicker. That being said, antibiotics aren’t surefire solutions against viruses. 

Building up a Resistance

Viruses are living organisms, and, therefore, they can build up a resistance to antibiotics. The more doctors and physicians use antibiotics to treat their patients; the more likely certain bacteria are bound to build up a tolerance to these medications. In fact, it is recommended that doctors refrain from giving their patients antibiotics for things such as the common cold, flu, and sore throat. Using these medications when they’re not necessary can result in a more rapid spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

In addition, there are viruses that can adapt to the presence of antibiotics, helping them develop a gene mutation that can resist the medication. Other forms of bacteria have been able to produce new proteins that can counteract the effects of antibiotics.

Fighting Back Against Antibiotic Resistance

Researchers are trying to find ways to prevent bacteria from sharing or producing new genes. New strains of antibiotics will have to disrupt those cellular processes before bacteria has a chance to act. This is still a work in progress, but science is getting closer to a solution every day.