How does taking the whole course of antibiotics help prevent superbug?

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I thought superbugs wouldn’t have been killed by the type of antibiotics I’m taking anyway (or if they would, then wouldn’t they still be susceptible in the future?)

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4 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

If you take only part of the course, then there is a much higher likelihood that you have killed enough of the bacteria that you no longer feel the symptoms but there are plenty of that bacteria still alive in your body. The bacteria that survive will learn how to deal with the antibiotic and then when they reproduce it will be more likely to be resistant to it in the future. Imagine this happening in many peoples bodies across the population for years and as they share germs you end up with strains of the bacteria that are now resistant to antibiotics. This is how you get superbugs in the first place. (Or more accurately, its a contributing reason).

Anonymous 0 Comments

So it’s a few things really. You’re right on some level that if you have an infection and *some* of the bacteria is resistant to the antibiotic than what’s it matter if you finish the dose or not, that little “bit” is still resistant right?

Three factors:

1) you have an immune system all on your own. If you have a bacterial infection and some of those buggers do carry a mutation making them resistant to the antibiotic, the hope is that the antibiotic you’re taking is going to destroy *enough* bacteria that what’s left will be fought off by your own body’s natural immune system

2) resistance doesn’t equal immunity. Blast it with enough, the suckers will die. At a certain point you’ve probably cleared your system of the non resistant type but the resistant type still need some more doses to be fully cleared out. Stop there and you give the bacteria a chance to regroup, sicken you further *and* you’re now contagious spreading just the resistant strain

3) bacteria multiply *fast*. Very very fast. And every multiplication is a chance of a mutation that results in immunity or resistance. So part of it isn’t “it won’t work against what’s already immune” but “if you kill it all off you lower the chances of some of them mutating later”

Anonymous 0 Comments

Because I don’t think people is being clear. The antibiotics is not a yes/no kind of thing because just like people not all the bacteria in your body is the same. Some are more susceptible to the antibiotic and some less. When you take antibiotics the more susceptible ones die first the least one later (as someone commented your body’s immune system also has a role to play here) so if you don’t take the full set then chances are there will be more hardy bugs (with respect to the antibiotic) alive and if the bacterial genocide stops then they can recover and start having little hardy offspring. So now you will have more of those laying around. Repeat that process with other antibiotics and people and you might end up with a super bacteria if somehow there is a combination of genes that allows them to survive, the billion combinations will find it.

Anonymous 0 Comments

A guy(your immune system) is fighting a thief(bacteria) in an alley. It’s pretty back and forth, so you call for help and another guy(the antibiotics) comes and together they jump the thief. They’re winning, but or some reason this thief is incredibly tenacious. He keeps getting beat down but keeps getting back up, weaker than he was before but still able to put up a fight.

Finishing the course of antibiotics is like beating down the thief enough times that he won’t get back up , and stopping early gives the bacteria more of an opportunity to overwhelm your immune system. In the second case, you call for the 2nd guy again but when they start jumping the thief again, he catches the 2nd guy’s fist, stares into his eyes, and says “that shit don’t work anymore”, before proceeding to reverse jump them until you can call for a 3rd guy to sub out for the 2nd (diff antibiotic). Now you have another chance to jump the thief successfully.