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Is Antibiotic Abuse Murdering Our Future & Your Part to Playing Antibiotic Stewardship

Is Antibiotic Abuse Murdering Our Future & Your Part to Playing Antibiotic Stewardship

Modern medicine has given us antibiotics, our go-to-first line of defense. They are not for viruses like common cold or a flu but when you are down with something serious like pneumonia, bronchitis, etc, there is a need for something serious; something potent to kill of the bacteria and get well.

The problem is that bacteria have become increasingly resistant to antibiotics, making the antibiotics that you readily get from your doctor less effective. Antibiotic resistance occurs when targeted bacteria show resistance to an antibiotic, continuing to thrive and multiply, even in the presence of an antibiotic’s therapeutic levels.

What is selective pressure in antibiotic resistance?

Selective pressure is an antibiotic influence on natural selection where susceptible bacteria, or those having low chance of survival, are killed or inhibited by the antibiotic while the resistant strains of bacteria are allowed to survive. However, sometimes, the natural selection to promote resistance to antibiotics is influenced at a low level without human action – bacteria have the ability to produce and use antibiotics against other bacteria.

Nonetheless, today’s higher level of antibiotic resistance is solely due to antibiotic abuse or overuse. It’s common in some countries to purchase antibiotics over the counter or take unnecessary dosages to treat viral illnesses, such as the common cold.

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A matter of concern

Whether it is about protecting people from different classes of bacteria or saving countless number of lives since the first antibiotic (penicillin) was clinically used in the 1940s, antibiotics have a significant attribution in the human health history. However, their efficacy has become vulnerable, giving rise to drug-resistant bacteria.

Much of the effectiveness of antibiotics is threatened in the modern food animal industry by the use of low doses of antimicrobials for faster growth of livestock and poultry animals, and to compensate for unhygienic environments they are raised in. This encourages bacteria to resist drugs, and such drug-resistant bacteria come in contact with the general public, either through food, animal or human carriers.

1 death every 3 seconds all around the world

This is a dangerous statistic which will soon become a reality by 2050 if countries don’t take immediate action to control antibiotic resistance. ResistanceMap, a highly visual and interactive online platform, shows the current trends in antibiotic resistance around the globe, including the USA, Europe, and low & middle income countries (LMICs):

  • USA: 2 million serious illnesses, 23,000 deaths, $20 billion additional annual medical costs
  • Europe: 25,000 deaths, €1.5 billion direct and indirect annual costs (EMA and ECDC 2009)
  • India: 58,000 neonatal sepsis deaths (Laxminarayan et al. 2013)
  • Tanzania and Mozambique: Increasing deaths of neonates and children under 5 (Kayange et al. 2010; Roca et al. 2008)
  • Worldwide: 935,000 deaths of children under 5 due to pneumonia (2013)

The 2000-10 data of 71 countries reveals that global antibiotic consumption has grown from 50 billion to nearly 70 billion standard units, which is more than a 30% increase. Eighty percent of antibiotics are used in the community of most nations, whether prescribed by healthcare providers or not, and 20% are used in hospitals and other facilities (Kotwani and Holloway 2011).

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The Journal of the American Medical Association’s new report concludes that doctor’s offices, clinics and emergency rooms in the USA prescribe 30% unnecessary antibiotics.

Rare antibiotic resistant E. coli “superbug” detected for the first time

“The medicine cabinet is empty for some patients,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “It is the end of the road unless we act urgently.”

Frieden recently signaled a warning sign for the USA when rare mutant Colistin-resistent E. coli was found in a 49-year-old Pennsylvania woman at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Colistin is a last resort antibiotic most physicians use when all other antibiotics don’t work against a bacteria. A similar strain of the antibiotic resistant bacteria was found in a pig intestine by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

There is the danger of a potentially unstoppable superbug being produced if Colistin-resistent E. coli interacts with other bacteria that only respond to Colistin.

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The CDC reports a minimum 2 million cases of infection from other antibiotic resistant bacteria each year and 23,000 consequent deaths to say the least. World Health Organization (WHO) warns about one of the biggest threats to global health due to antibiotic resistance.

10 superbugs which can cause 10 million deaths each year

  1. Gonorrhea  350,000 cases in the USA in 2014, shows resistance to 5 common antibiotics. The sexually transmitted disease now shows resistance to the only two antibiotics left to treat it, i.e. azithromycin and ceftriaxone, according to CDC. There is an overall increase in sexually transmitted diseases in the USA according to a report.
  2. Enterococcus: An ESKAPE pathogen which resists vancomycin antibiotic.
  3. Staphylococcus Aureus: Multidrug resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) causes 64% more deaths than its non-resistant form.
  4. Klebsiella: A high level of Carbapenem-resistant bacteria.
  5. Acinetobacter: Commonly infects patients in intensive care unit (ICU) and other healthcare settings.
  6. Pseudomonas: Responsible for around 51,000 healthcare associated infections (HAIs) in the USA each year.
  7. E. coli: Now shows resistance to fluoroquinolones, common oral antimicrobial drugs for urinary tract infections (UTIs).
  8. Mycobacterium Tuberculosis (TB): India reported total resistance to all TB drugs. 480,000 MDR-TB (multidrug resistant) cases worldwide and XDR-TB (extensively-drug resistant) cases in 100 nations in 2014.
  9. Influenza: Type A and B influenza cause 250,000 to 500,000 deaths and 3 to 5 million cases of serious illness each year.
  10. Typhoid Fever: Affects 21 million worldwide population and causes 222,000 deaths (mostly children) each year.

Your part to playing antibiotic stewardship to avoid antibiotic resistance

Did you know? Antibiotics are prescribed by 95% of doctors in clinics without being absolutely sure if they are really required. Does that blame only the clinicians? Or do you also shoulder some responsibility as an antibiotic consumer? Well, a surveys says antibiotics are misunderstood as effective viral infection treatment by 36% of Americans while another reveals the U.S. as 46% of worldwide antibiotic market.

Take no shortcuts to heal

Right from our ancestors to doctors, they all think “rest” is the best remedy to speed up the healing process or stay fit. But we never take the time to see ourselves out of sickness, which is actually the ideal way. Most of us rely on antibiotics to clear up faster. However, the deal is: pay now in time or later with chronic problems.

Be your own advocate at doctor’s office

1 in 10 doctors would definitely prescribe you an antibiotic. At least of 10% of physicians don’t think it’s a big deal to give antibiotics even if they’re not required. With such scary numbers to tell, you ought to be your own health advocate these days! Ask if your illness is really bacterial, tell them you don’t preferably demand antibiotics, and choose a hospital which practices antibiotic stewardship.

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Use antibacterial cleaning products at minimum

“For routine day in and day out use, at my house I use a nice soap that smells like flowers. That’s fine. You don’t need anything special,” said deputy director Dr. Michael Bell from CDC.

Don’t become obsessed with antibacterial products! Most regular soaps or alcohol-based sanitizers are natural antibiotics and suffice the need to keep you safe from bacteria.

Check the meat you shop at grocery stores

The bacteria on raw meat can be life-threatening. CDC reports approximately 48 million Americans food poisoned every year. Protect yourself and the community by choosing only “antibiotic-free” meats. Avoid cross-contamination of other foods when handling or cooking meat by washing your hands thoroughly during and after preparing food.

Stick to alternatives whenever possible

Sometimes, even chronic or acute infections can be dealt with natural remedies instead of antibiotics, provided you are observed by a skilled herbalist or integrative MD. Viral and bacterial infections also respond to diet change and natural supplements.

Get on Get Smart

It’s a great resource made available by CDC to avoid unnecessary doctor visits or premature consulting, and eventually taking unnecessary antibiotics.

Featured photo credit: Mkcassidy75 via flickr.com

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Last Updated on October 20, 2020

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future. Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

Bonus: Think Like a Rhino

More Tips for Procrastinators to Start Taking Action

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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