How to Prevent Antimicrobial Resistance: 3 Essential Steps

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, antimicrobial resistance has been found in samples from every U.S. state and country. The problem of antimicrobial resistance is compounded by the fact that there are very few new antibiotics being developed.

The global effort to educate patients and providers about the importance of reducing the unnecessary and over-use of antibiotics is a crucially important means to slowing the rate of resistance,“says Dr. Scott Gottlieb, Former United States Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

First, understand the dangers of antimicrobial resistance.

Antimicrobial resistance is a silent pandemic.” When bacteria become resistant to antibiotics, these life-saving medicines become less effective. This can lead to longer hospital stays and higher medical costs.

AMR is a growing problem because of the overuse and misuse of antibiotics. Every time we use antibiotics, we increase the chances that bacteria will become resistant to them. To make matters worse, antibiotic-resistant bacteria have the potential to spread from person to person.

To make things clear, antimicrobial resistance does not mean our body is resistant to antibiotics. It means that the bacteria within our bodies have become resistant. Although it is impossible to 100% avoid getting sick, there are precautionary measures you can take to lower your risk of infection and help prevent the germs from spreading.

This is why it’s so important to understand the dangers of AMR and to take action today to prevent the development and spread of antimicrobial resistance.

3 essential steps to prevent Antimicrobial Resistance

1. Use antibiotics only when necessary

One of the most important things we can do to prevent antimicrobial resistance is to use antibiotics only when they are truly needed. That means not using them to treat colds or other viruses — which they will not work on.

It also means finishing the entire course of antibiotics prescribed by your healthcare provider, even if you feel better. Stopping antibiotic treatment early gives bacteria the opportunity to become resistant.

2. Prevent infections in the first place

We can help control antimicrobial resistance by preventing infections in the first place. That means washing our hands often and well and avoiding close contact with people who are sick.

This will minimize the number of bacteria that become resistant to antibiotics, and ultimately keep us healthier.

3. Reduce the spread by getting vaccinated

Another important way to reduce the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is to get vaccinated. Vaccines help protect us from diseases that can lead to infections.

While antibiotic evolution is decreasing, vaccine development is expanding. A 2020 report shows how vaccines can decrease AMR by preventing bacterial and viral infections, thereby reducing the use/​misuse of antibiotics, and by preventing antibiotic-resistant infections.

Become an Antimicrobial Resistance Fighter™

We can all help prevent AMR by advocating for responsible antibiotic use. This means supporting policies that want to raise awareness of the silent pandemic” and promoting the habits of prevention (i.e. handwashing).

By keeping ourselves updated on the dangers of antimicrobial resistance and taking steps to prevent it, we can all help protect ourselves and our families.

Stay updated on AMR by listening to podcasts such Superbugs and You, where you hear stories from all sides, including patients and professionals, on how resistant infections have affected their lives.

Share Your Story and Become an Antimicrobial Resistance Fighter