The United Nationals General Assembly convened yesterday to discuss what is being considered “one of the biggest threats to global health.” The threat? Antimicrobial resistance. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) occurs when viruses and bacteria change in such a way that they no longer respond to antibiotics. This creates a “superbug” infection, and currently up to 700,000 people are dying annually from drug resistant infections. Since it can take decades to produce new antibiotics, doctors and health practitioners at large are urging the public to help protect themselves any way they can.
Stop using antibacterial soap.
Last Friday, the FDA banned 19 chemicals that are currently being used in antibacterial soap. There is some research to suggest that these chemicals could be contributing to AMR and may be actually harmful to long-term health. The FDA urges everyone to switch to plain soap and water instead.
Don’t ask for antibiotics.
For many years, doctors and health practitioners have been pressured to prescribe antibiotics. The result has been the overuse of antibiotics, which is believed to have contributed the growth of AMR as well. Let your doctor decide if you actually need antibiotics.
Take the full course of antibiotics.
There is a reason doctors also urge their patients to finish their full course of antibiotics. The full course will ensure all of the bacteria are killed off long after you start feeling better. Cutting off the prescription pills too early can give any surviving bacteria a chance to fight back and become resistant.
Buy higher quality meat.
Look for antibiotic-free meat. In lower quality meat, antibiotics given to livestock pass right into animal byproducts. The result? Everyday citizens are eating meat laced with antibiotics or antibiotic resistant bacteria without even realizing it.
Use more natural cleaning products or wear gloves.
While hand soap and body wash are currently being target by the FDA, the chemicals used in cleaning products are sure to be next. Switching to more natural cleaning products that use fewer chemicals is a good idea, as is wearing gloves to protect your skin from absorbing harmful chemicals.
Featured photo by John Voo on Flickr.