We are all guilty of the "not finishing your drug syndrome." We fall ill, go to the hospital, see the doctor, and drugs are being prescribed for us. We come back, start taking the medication, and we start feeling better. We do not finish the dosage and abandon the medication. Other individuals do not see the need for a doctor when they have Google to research drugs, get them from the pharmacy, and ingest. These two scenarios lead to drug resistance.
What is Drug Resistance?
Drug Resistance is the reduced potency of a medication that would normally eliminate microbes to cure a disease that increases death risk. It can lead to a widespread disease (if it is contagious). Drug Resistance is a thing of concern as these pathogens become resistant. They lead to new strains of microbes that threaten the treatment of common infections. Due to drug Resistance, new drugs are needed as the present drugs start to fail. The Drugs involved could be antibiotics, chemotherapy drugs, or even pain killers. When one pain killer no longer works because of prolonged use, a higher dose of that drug or switching to a new drug becomes necessary.
Drug Resistance can occur due to some factors:
- Natural Resistance: The organism can possess an innate (inborn) property that makes it resistant to the drug. The Bacterial cell wall could be covered with a permeability barrier that does not allow the drug to enter.
- Acquired Resistance: This results from a change in the genetic makeup of the organism's cells due to self-medication and environment. Resistance can arise from normal products like shampoos, detergents, etc. Even a polluted environment can induce resistance.
Mechanisms by Which Resistance is Illustrated
- Inactivation of the Drug: This is a common cause of resistance. In this case, the drug's capability to attack pathogens is reduced. The bacteria resist the effect of the drug by chemically modifying the antibiotic. The bacteria do this by producing an enzyme capable of adding several chemical groups to the medication.
- Reduced Membrane Permeability: Pathogens often become resistant by preventing the entrance of the drug. The change in the membrane occurs when the membrane proteins are genetically modified, which leads to the alteration in the transport system of the membrane that can no longer cross the antibacterial agents into the cell.
- Modification of the Target Site: Resistance arises when the pathogen's target structure is altered, and the drug cannot bind to the target structure.
- Efflux of the Antibiotics: This resistance mechanism works by pumping out the drugs after they have entered the cell.
Prevention of Drug Resistance
- If you are on medication, take it when due (that is, take it for the time frame for which you are to take it).
- If you have taken a drug and cured an illness, when you feel sick, do not self-medicate with that same drug. Always consult your physician.
- The cleanliness of one's environment can never be over-emphasized.