Antibiotic resistance, according to the CDC, is the ability of microbes in your body to resist the effects of drugs. Although everyone is at risk, there are certain precautions that each of us can take.

One of the most common problems, and one that’s becoming a greater public concern, is the issue of overuse. “It’s critical for both providers of health care, including NPs, PAs, pharmacists and physicians, as well as patients, to be educated and understand that we don’t have as many antibiotics in the pipeline,” says Dr. Kim Chapin from Lifespan Academic Medical Centers. “We are seeing greater resistance to these antibiotics. They [must] be used judiciously and only when they are really needed.”

Detection methods

Dr. Chapin emphasizes the importance of accurate diagnoses, which let “providers know exactly what their patients have and that they can target treatment.” Rapid antigen tests, a common diagnostic test, she says, “actually miss about 50 percent of true influenza infections. Meanwhile: “Molecular tests identify with more accuracy and nearly as quickly, and are the best contender for providing the best information.”

“Rapid antigen tests, a common diagnostic test, she says, “actually miss about 50 percent of true influenza infections.”

Accurate diagnoses are essential to ensure each patient is given the proper medication, avoiding antibiotics when necessary. Our antibiotic use can be compared to the negative connotations with antibiotics in our milk, vegetables and meat.

“If you don’t want them in your food or ground water, it makes sense that you don’t want them in yourself unnecessarily either,” Dr. Chapin contends. Not every infection requires an antibiotic. There’s a reason your body is loaded with bacteria both inside and out. They help in many, many ways.”

Helpful technology

UV technology is an innovative approach to infection control, and can help prevent contracting infections in the first place. UV radiators “can kill spores and bacteria in a room after someone’s been in it,” says Dr. Chapin, so we are not relying on hands-on cleaning to hit every possible surface a patient, caregiver or visitor may have touched, which is crucial for preventing infections in hospitals for future patients, but also the daily caregivers and family members.