A bacterium is a living organism which is made up of one cell only. It has a tail on the end called a “flagellum” which it uses to propel itself through its environment.
The human body is filled with bacteria all the time. Most bacteria are helpful. For example, the intestines have bacteria that help break down food.
Some bacteria are damaging to the body and lead to infection. These are called pathogenic bacteria. Pathogenic bacteria multiply rapidly, secrete toxins and get their energy and survival needs from the human body.
The body’s immune response attacks pathogenic bacteria by sending a variety of cells to fight the infection, such as white blood cells. The immune response causes inflammation and raises body temperature. Since bacteria usually depend on a narrow temperature range to survive, a fever helps kill them off.
The body then expels the pathogenic material. When there is a wound, this comes out like pus.
If there isn’t an external opening for the pus to drain, it becomes an abscess. Sometimes an abscess has to be surgically drained and removed.
Antibiotics are designed to treat specific types of infections. One of the biggest public health dangers facing humans today is antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic resistance happens when the bacteria changes itself over time, so that it does not die when exposed to the antibiotic. The bacteria evolve to survive the methods we use to kill them.
This is very dangerous. Once bacteria are resistant to all antibiotics we will no longer be able to treat the infection. Not treating an infection can lead to death. Modern society may return to a time when it was possible to die from a cut finger.
A big cause of antibiotic resistance is taking antibiotics when they are not needed, and not finishing one’s antibiotic dose.
When you don’t finish your antibiotics, a few bacteria are left behind. These bacteria are able to change themselves, so that the next time the antibiotic is used, it can’t kill them. Their offspring will even inherit the ability to protect themselves against the antibiotic.
Another cause of antibiotic resistance is overuse of antibiotics in factory farming. Because of the crowded and unsanitary conditions in factory farms, animals are given high doses of antibiotics throughout their lives.
Unfortunately, over time this can lead to massive antibiotic resistance. The American Medical Association has been attempting for years, without meaningful success, to force greater oversight of antibiotic use and tighter regulations. Consumers need to help drive the change.
Consumers can help the American Medical Association drive this change by choosing healthier plant based sources of protein. Meat should not be purchased from factory farm sources, mostly sold at major super market chains. Supporting restaurants that only serve meat from animals who were not treated with antibiotics and other hormones is also helpful.
The information contained on this site is for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment rendered by a licensed medical professional. It is essential that you discuss with your primary care provider any symptoms or medical problems that you may be experiencing.
Positions of Medical and Scientific Organizations on Antibiotic use in Livestock Operations; Retrieved from https://www.nrdc.org/food/files/saving-anitbiotics-med-quotes-FS.pdf
Factory Farming Photos; Retrieved from http://www.farmsanctuary.org/photos/?album=5#content