Thursday 19 May 2016

Antibiotics Abuse, Resistance and the threat of a post-antibiotics era

You have cough or sore throat you take Septrin; having running stomach or going to a place whose food you aren't so sure of you take Flagyl; having slight or persistent headache you take Amoxicillin; you give your new born baby Ampiclox drops to "flush" all infections the baby could have gotten from you; Your doctor prescribes malaria drugs as well as antibiotics after he sent you for malaria test alone to which you tested positive. These among many others are the ways we abuse antibiotics in our part of the world.  What makes matters so terrible is the ease with which we can source antibiotics in every drug shop around. It is not only wrong to self-prescribe antibiotics it also does not always help our case.

Sometimes the cough or cold one is self-treating with antibiotics is actually caused by a virus, thus antibiotics would have no effect.

Poultry and fish farmers also indiscriminately use antibiotics for varied reasons. Even our medical practitioners are guilty. They tend to prescribe antibiotics at almost every visit to the hospital; medical test or none. Our over-exposure to antibiotics has made microorganisms resistant to them.
When you misuse antibiotics, some microorganisms toughen, learn to strive, thrive and multiply even in the presence of the antibiotics; then they can be said to be resistant to that antibiotic.  Antibiotics resistance is the reason why drugs like Penicillin, Ampiclox and Tetracyclin hardly are effective these days. It is part of the reasons infections hardly get treated these days, often leading to both human and economic losses.
Antibiotics resistance has been described as a pressing public health problem world over. There seems to be a prevalence of organisms resistant to the current antibiotics.  Even  the  World Health Organization (WHO), said "we are gradually getting to a post-antibiotics era when minor infections and injuries  will once again start to kill". It has also been estimated that "one in four deaths in Nigeria will be attributable to antibiotics resistance by 2050", and that "resistant microorganisms will kill more than cancer by 2050". For those who know what these imply, they are very scary. To worsen the already bad situation is the case of fake and substandard drugs in the market.

We do not always need to take antibiotics.

Solution: take antibiotics only when prescribed and as prescribed by a qualified and "informed" medical practitioner , do not share or transfer medications and do not take left-overs.
Health practitioners should avoid indiscriminate antibiotics prescriptions. Tests should be conducted and the actual cause of infection determined before antibiotics is prescribed. Nevertheless, your doctor can use his/her discretion to prescribe drugs pending when your test result is ready.
Government and drug regulatory agencies should tighten the laws surrounding antibiotics prescription, availability and ease of purchase. One should not be able to walk into any drug shop and buy antibiotics  without a doctor's prescription.

 We need to be aware of what we could be causing or exacerbating when we indiscriminately take antibiotics. Antibiotics save lives. Let us not allow its indiscriminate use lead to loss of lives. I dread the post-antibiotics era. I dread the Superbug. You should too.

Therefore let us all say no to antibiotics  abuse and all forms of drug abuse.

Monday 16 May 2016

Memoirs of a Nigerian Mum; Acid reflux

Motherhood is a challenging task filled with emotional highs and lows. It could get confusing sometimes. At points when you do not know what to do you find out there are myriads of advice which are often conflicting and leaves you confused. If you are Internet savvy you could try searching the challenging issue on the internet ; this could leave you even more confused. If it is a health-related issue, the best person to consult is your medical practitioner.

That said, I would love to share a then-scary experience I had. As a first-time mum, there were too many things I did not know and was wary of picking up advice easily. I cross-checked time and again before taking an advice especially when it had to to with my baby. My mum was (and is still) such a solid rock. She was always my first port of call. When she wasn't sure of the solution she always told me. I have never had any reason to doubt her solutions.

My baby was somewhere between one to four weeks old then; I had just breastfed and put him back to sleep when he cried out. I rushed to him and noticed he was gasping for breath, arching his back and foaming at the mouth. I panicked. I carried him in my arms, woke his dad up and we tried all we could, from rocking to trying to breastfeed, to praying and in fact everything we could think of. That was probably the longest one or two minutes of our lives as parents. I later found out our baby had what is called "acid reflux". Because I was feeling sleepy I didn't bother burping him  after breast feeding and I put him back to sleep, on his back. The air he swallowed during breastfeeding, the breast milk and his stomach acid refluxed back up towards his mouth leading to what I saw. Holding him upright helped ease the discomfort. I learnt and put into practice the following which ensured my baby never experienced such again.

(1) I made sure I burped him after each feed by keeping him upright with his head on my chest or on my shoulders.

(2) When it was almost impossible to burp him, like after those midnight feeds when I could barely keep my eyes open I lay him down on his left side; that ensures the stomach is positioned in such a way to keep food down as the inlet is higher than the outlet. Considering how young he was, I placed a folded wrapper at his back to hold him in that position.

(3) I cut off milk and other dairy products as well as gas-producing foods like beans and cabbage from my diet. This was largely because I noticed he had so much infant gas pain each time I ate food containing the  aforementioned.

My baby never had that experience again.