What is antimicrobial resistance and what can you do?

by | May 7, 2023 | Health and Wellness

At least once in your life you’ve probably had a cut or an illness that has led to an infection. Like most Canadians, you were probably able to treat it by going to the doctor and getting a prescription. Now imagine if that medication stopped working. It may sound like an unlikely scenario, but antimicrobial resistance is real, and experts say it’s a growing threat to our health.

The more we use medications to treat microbes like bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi, the more likely these microbes adapt and our treatments become less effective. Fortunately, taking small actions can reduce the risk of this becoming a major problem. Here are some ways to help reduce antimicrobial resistance:

Learn how antimicrobial resistance happens. Informing yourself is the first step to taking action. Resistance happens when bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites adapt and make medications that treat them less effective, or not effective at all. This means the drugs can’t stop or slow down microbial growth to properly treat infections. Responsible use, like using them only as prescribed by a health professional, is one of the keys to reduce the problem of AMR.

Seek medical care when required. You are more likely to have to use medications when you become injured or sick. Antimicrobial resistance occurs when microbes have the chance to adapt. That’s why it’s important to treat injuries, and seek medical attention when you feel ill.

Keep a safe distance when ill. If you’re sick, stay home and avoid handling food for others. This helps stop the spread of bacteria and other germs. Try to avoid close contact with people who have colds or are sick.

Help animals stay healthy too. Microbes don’t discriminate. Like in humans, illness prevention is often the best medicine. Make sure the animals in your life have the best chance of staying healthy by staying up to date on their vaccines, seeing your vet regularly and using medications as directed.

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