14 Jun 2011
Older adults are more susceptible to certain types of infections than most other segments of society. However, the irresponsible use of antibiotics both in human medicine and in the production of food has lead to an increasing number of diseases resistant to some of the most important treatments we have available. Resistant bacterial infections are more difficult, and some cases impossible to cure with the current generation of antibiotics, dramatically increasing the cost of dealing with what would ordinarily be manageable conditions and sometimes leading to premature death.
There are some simple steps that can help to slow the rise of resistant strains of bacteria. For example, using antibiotics in livestock only when an animal is sick would dramatically reduce overall usage. In this country, healthy farm animals receive more than three times as much antibiotics each year than all people. In fact, indications are that farms that regularly treat all animals with antibiotics have higher rates of disease, not lower. How can you have an impact? If consumers demand antibiotic-free meat in their grocery stores, producers will respond. For more information, read the following articles from Wendy Gordon, a green consumer movement leader, and NRDC:
Also, many people go to their doctors expecting a prescription for an antibiotic, regardless of whether or not it will treat their condition. The causes of colds and the flu are viruses, not bacteria, and are completely unaffected by antibiotics. Using them unnecessarily only promotes the growth of resistant strains.