What Is Antimicrobial Resistance & How Does It Happen

What Is Antimicrobial Resistance & How Does It Happen?

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a phenomenon whereby pathogens (often bacteria, viruses, fungi) continue to cause disease and even death without interference from antimicrobials.

If bacteria, viruses, fungi, or microbes could not develop resistance, they would quickly succumb to the effects of antibiotic treatments. 

At this point, the history of medicine would be very different. There would be no choice of antibiotic treatments; antibiotics would not have to be used sparingly; antibiotics would no longer be reserve for bacterial infections and would eliminate many human diseases and cancers. It could all occur if, and when, the current AMR wave becomes completely catastrophic.

How do antibiotics help?

The action of antibiotics, and other antimicrobials, destroys bacteria and viruses. Some bacteria can resist antimicrobials. When antibiotics are used in a non-prescribed context. For example, when a child has a stomach bug or an adult has a viral infection, many of the bacteria will develop resistance. 

Antimicrobial resistance occurs at different rates and in various stages of the disease. And, because it has been found in humans, other animals, and plants, we have assumed that AMR is not an issue in humans.

So What Is Antimicrobial Resistance?

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is resistance to antibiotic treatment. Such as antibiotics, antifungals, antimalarials, immunosuppressants, or chemotherapy.  Antimicrobial resistance is a physical outcome of diseases and is not a defect in the bacteria or other pathogens. The word antimicrobial is the opposite of antibacterial. 

In cases where antimicrobial resistance occurs, it fails to produce antibacterial molecules that kill the microorganism. It happens in bacteria, fungi, viruses, and some plant pathogens.

How human diseases caused?

All human diseases and infections can cause by bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms, of which there are some 3,500 described species and some 500,000 different strains. 

Despite the many thousands of species, only 2% are known to cause infectious diseases. The fact that just 2% of contagious agents cause conditions is one reason why drug development, and perhaps even the discovery of antibiotics themselves, requires so many years and so many laboratories.

  • Every infection is caused by a bacterium, virus, fungus, or some combination of the two. All the infectious agents are also known as bacteria, viruses, and parasites, as they are only bacteria, viruses, and fungi. 
  • As we try to treat a particular infection, we need to be sure the germ is present; this is one reason why antibiotics cannot treat stomach bugs in children. The presence of a bacterium in the gut does not result in a bacterial infection but rather a disease caused by bacteria. 
  • There are millions of bacteria and viruses in the stomach. It would be foolish to assume that there is no infection because bacteria are present in the gut. So if we do find bacteria, then we must remove the bacteria and treat the condition. 
  • If we find bacteria in the colon, we must treat the infection in the case of a disease with a specific type of bacteria. The existence of the bacteria does not necessarily mean that there is an infection. There may be no infection, or if there is an infection, the condition is not a severe, life-threatening one. 
  • It is also the case with other infectious agents, viruses, and fungi. If we find them, we must treat the infection and be sure we have removed all the bacteria and the other organisms.

Once a bacterial, virus, or fungus has infected a host:

It cannot exist outside the body without dying. The degree to which it can kill depends on the number of times it has been expose to antibiotics. And the strength of the antimicrobials, the length of time it has been living in the body. And the number of substances it has eaten. 

An antibiotic kills bacteria and other microorganisms, but it does not kill viruses. An antibiotic can also kill some bacteria in the body, but not all of them.

Other Major diseases 

Other bacterial infections are less severe but sometimes not entirely as well controlled. For example, tuberculosis can cause high fever, a cough, chest pain, and body aches.  When the infection progresses, the fever worsens, the cough becomes worse, and the chest pain becomes severe. Later still, the infection may become infectious, with the bacteria developing a resistance to antimicrobials and going on to cause tuberculosis. 

When the bacteria become resistant to antibiotics:

It is more challenging to treat the infection and is more severe. With some bacteria, this happens with rapid success and is responsible for high mortality.

Because bacteria have evolve so well over millions of years and have built up such a large population within the human gut, it is consider safe to use antibiotics to treat them. Other bacteria will usually be kill by normal digestion, but not many bacteria are kill by normal digestion of their bacterial products. 

Some bacteria are capable of producing chemicals to protect themselves from digestive acids. Because bacteria are so strongly attract to the oxygen in the gut, they sometimes defend themselves using chemically similar chemicals to those produced by food. However, if bacteria make toxic substances, they are likely to be kill by the enzymes in the stomach. The stomach generates toxic chemicals to bacteria, so there is a possibility that some of the bacteria will die as a result.

Antimicrobial substances are consider toxins in the normal stomach, but the toxins do not always kill bacteria. Poison rarely kills bacteria. Although some substances will kill bacteria, this is not because they are entirely toxic to bacteria.