How To Prevent Antibiotic Resistance – 2020 Updated Treatment

Updated on - Written by
Medically reviewed by Kimberly Langdon, MD

how to prevent antibiotic resistance

Since the discovery of antibiotics[1] in 1928 by Sir Alexander Fleming, antibiotics have changed the course of the medical industry. What’s even more remarkable about this discovery is that it was accidentally discovered. Thus, the question of how to prevent antibiotic resistance is a obsession to the public.

Fleming suddenly found a petri dish in his laboratory contaminated by certain bacteria. He also found out that there was a  ‘juice’ that prevented the growth of these bacteria. He then coined such juice as ‘penicillin’, which is considered to be the first-ever antibiotic.

However, with the developments of antibiotics over the past several years, it’s quite a challenge for the entire medical community to find out some types of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotic medications.

Antibiotic resistance is a threat to everyone because it can reduce cure rates. And this increases mortality if not addressed rapidly.

In this article, we will tackle the new antibiotic resistance treatment, facts about what causes it, and ways to prevent it. Without further ado, let’s dive in below.

What Is Antibiotic Resistance?

From the terms “antibiotic” and “resistance” themselves, antibiotic resistance is the resistance developed by bacteria against antibiotic medications. Additionally, microbes[2], such as fungi, viruses, parasites, and bacteria have developed the specific ability to not be affected by the drugs originally designed to eliminate them.  

One risk of antibiotic resistance is the probability of developing other health complications due to taking more medication.

It would also be more difficult to treat and care for patients with chronic diseases because whenever they are subjected to chemotherapy, dialysis, and surgery, antibiotics are used to mitigate the chances of infections and when these antibiotics are no longer effective, these patients would certainly have a harder time.

How does it work?

What happens when antibiotic resistance occurs? It’s important to note that antibiotic resistance happens when antibiotic medicines are no longer effective against certain bacteria.

These bacteria can infect humans and animals, which would then cause an infection requiring medication. In this case, antibiotic medicines over time are used. These medicines have compounds that are supposed to combat these bacteria inside the body. However, what happens with antibiotic resistance is that these bacteria are no longer affected by these antibiotic medicines primarily because they have a genetic predisposition or the ability to mutate and survive the effects of the antibiotic. These hardier microbes survive and reproduce.

Once infected, patients would spend a long time in hospitals the drugs take longer to work and patients get sicker. When this happens, medical costs would surge tremendously and would cause so much crisis to our society. Worst, mortality rates of infected patients would increase and we would be left with nothing but worry for our future.

How do these bacteria develop such an ability? It has something to do with their genes changing over time. Plus, they may also acquire drug-resistant genes from other types of bacteria.

What Causes Antibiotic Resistance?

There is a myriad of reasons why bacteria develop resistance against antibiotic medicines and here are the reasons:

Biological/Natural Causes


As a natural occurrence among microbes, they tend to multiply quickly in a matter of every few hours, which increases the rate of spontaneous mutations. When this happens, they would evolve rapidly which would make them accustomed to certain environmental conditions. This occurrence helps them survive exposures to antimicrobial elements, resulting in antibiotic-resistant infections.

Gene Transfer

Microbes have the potential to transfer genes to one another, including the drug-resistant genes. In this case, some bacteria may get drug-resistant DNA[3] from other bacteria and may spread it to other ones, resulting in an increased drug-resistance of a group of bacteria. 

Societal Causes

Inappropriate Use

This happens when using antibiotics when the illness does not really require an antibiotic medicine.  

In some cases, there’s also a possibility that the doctor would mistakenly prescribe a patient a broad-spectrum antimicrobial drug[4] when a much more specific antibiotic would be so much better for the illness. Broad-spectrum antibiotics kill off the normal microbiome which can increase the chance of fungal infections and other problems within the gastrointestinal tract. Hospital Environment – Close contact among the sick patients inside the hospital can make a fertile environment for the germs.

Agricultural Use

There is still ongoing research about this, but experts have said that the use of antibiotics in agriculture[5] may promote drug-resistant infections.

How Does Antibiotic Resistance Develop?

how to prevent antibiotic resistance

The crisis we are facing about antibiotic-resistance in the medical scene has been around for several decades since the first group of patients took these antibiotics.

The research conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information[6]about the origins and evolution of antibiotic resistance showed that there are reasons why bacteria develop resistance against antibiotic medicines. It could be bacterial gene mutation due to the underuse, overuse, or inappropriate use of antibiotics. 

This phenomenon might relate to to the overuse and misuse of antibiotics or antimicrobial medicine by the people, including the insufficiency of new medication development. Only take antibiotics prescribed by a licensed doctor and health care provider for the infection. 

Plus, more people are traveling, hence bacteria can transmit from one place to another, causing infections and antibiotic-resistance infections.

How To Prevent Antibiotic Resistance 

The prevention of antibiotic resistance is a collaborative effort of everyone, not just the patients or the healthcare workers. Here are the ways on how to prevent antibiotic resistance.

For individuals

  • Regular hand-washing. To prevent illness and the spread of infectious diseases, wash your hands regularly to kill germs.
  • Knowing the symptoms. It would help a lot if you’re vigilant in spotting the early signs or symptoms of infectious diseases
  • Preparing food safely. In order to avoid bacterial infection and contamination of your food, always practice proper food preparation[7].
  • Getting vaccination. Vaccination is a must to prevent illnesses.
  • Avoiding leftover antibiotics. You can use antibiotics only when it is prescribed and administered by a healthcare professional. Do not use antibiotics prescribed for someone else. In addition, only take antibiotics prescribed by a licensed doctor and health care provider for the infection treatment. 
  • Learning the appropriate use of antibiotics. Remember, not all infections require the use of antibiotics. Therefore, if your doctor does not prescribe it, don’t insist. Also, make sure that you are getting the appropriate dosage at the appropriate amount of time. Not doing this may result in antibiotic-resistant infections. Always take all of your antibiotics and don’t stop once you start to feel better.
  • Asking questions. Don’t hesitate to ask. You may talk to your doctor about the antibiotics medicines, as well as the potential adverse effects it may bring.

For Healthcare Professionals

Prescribing antibiotics carefully

Make sure to be aware of the trends and changes in antibiotic use. You must also be updated about the recommended types of antibiotics[8] and the recommended dosage and practices. Not doing this may result in antibiotic-resistant infections. 

Inform the patients

Never leave your patients uninformed during a consultation. Inform them of the potential side effects you’re prescribing. Don’t use antibiotics prescribed for someone else. More so, let them know about the risks of antibiotic misuse and possible antibiotic resistance.

Be aware of the symptoms

There are no symptoms of antibiotic resistance, only that a patient is not getting well even after a standard antibiotic has been given. What your doctor can do is to extract a sample of the infected tissue on your body and have it tested to see what antibiotic is most effective against it.

You’ll know that an antibiotic drug is working on your body if your illness symptoms have subsided. Otherwise, you’re most likely having antibiotic resistance.

Probiotic Drink Could Offer New Way To fight Against Antibiotic Resistance

how to prevent antibiotic resistance

As antibiotic resistance becomes a huge concern to public health, a group of scientists at the University of Birmingham is now pursuing funding for research for a drink that has the potential to work against many resistant bacteria. Their research has the goal of developing and patenting a probiotic drink with a key genetic factor that can fix the genetic basis of resistance against antibiotics or antimicrobial drugs for germs including, E. Coli, Salmonella, and Pneumoniae Klebsiella.

It operates within bacterial cells by attacking small molecules of DNA, called plasmids. Such molecules also contain genes that are immune to antibiotics, which can be used by germs. Propagating between bacteria and taking resistance genes with them the plasmids replicate freely. The team was able to replace the resistance genes present in the bacteria by stopping the target plasmids from replicating, essentially re-sensitizing it to antibiotics or antimicrobial drugs.

The drink contains bacteria carrying a new form of a plasmid, which the researchers call pCURE plasmids (in a way similar to drinks like Yakult). These function in two ways: preventing the replication of resistance plasmids and also blocking a so-called ‘addiction mechanism’ used by the plasmids to destroy any bacteria that lose them. The resistance plasmid in this method brings a stable toxin into the host cell and an unstable antidote.

The antidote breaks down when the plasmid goes missing from the cell, allowing the harmful toxin to invade its host. The antidote is also borne by pCURE plasmids, ensuring that the cells that lose the plasmid resistance survive and take over the gut.

This probiotic drink is similar to a famous drink “Yakult” which could become a potential new tool in the war over antibiotic-resistant infections. Their research went online in PLOS One, a journal.


Antibiotic-resistance is a constant worry in the field of medicine as it can break the hopes of public health for the treatment of microbial infections. The only answer to the question of how to prevent antibiotic resistance for us is everyone should pay attention to protocols the medical entities have set in place. Not doing this may result in antibiotic-resistant infections. Actions preventing its occurrence are necessary by industry and among individuals since it’s also a matter of behavioral change. Therefore, let’s approach it with the right information and vigilance.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Causes Antibiotic Resistant?

Biological, mutation, and gene transfer.

How to prevent you from being antibiotic-resistant?

Regular hand-washing, knowing the symptoms, preparing food safely, getting vaccinated, avoiding the use of leftover antibiotics, and learning the appropriate use of antibiotics. 

How Does Antibiotic Resistance Develop?

The said phenomenon has always been linked to the overuse and misuse of antibiotics, which leads to gene changes and because of the insufficiency of new drug development. 

What is Resistance to Antibiotics[9]

According to the Centers for disease control and prevention, resistance to antibiotics is when antibiotics become ineffective to the antibiotics or antimicrobial drugs that will cause drug-resistant infections. These problems become a big concern for public health. That means that they do not destroy the germs and continue to grow. It doesn’t mean that our body is antibiotic-resistant. It is usually due to improper antibiotic use. So just take medicine prescribed by a licensed doctor. 

+ 9 sources

Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial process here

  1. International Historic Chemical Landmark. (1999). Discovery and Development of Penicillin. Available from:
  2. Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care. (2010). What are microbes?. Available from:
  3. React Staff. (2020). Mutation and Selection. Available from:
  4. Marin H. Kollef. (2008). Issue Supplement, 47(1): S3–S13. Broad-Spectrum Antimicrobials and the Treatment of Serious Bacterial Infections: Getting It Right Up Front. Available from:
  5. Christy Manyi-Loh, Sampson Mamphweli,  Edson Meyer & Anthony Okoh. (2018). Antibiotic Use in Agriculture and Its Consequential Resistance in Environmental Sources: Potential Public Health Implications. Available from:
  6. Julian Davies & Dorothy Davies. (2010). Origins and Evolution of Antibiotic Resistance. Available from:
  7. United States Department of Agriculture. (2020). Basics for Handling Food Safely. Available from:
  8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Antibiotic Do’s & Don’ts. Available from:
  9. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Antibiotic Resistance Questions and Answers. Available from:


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Healthcanal Staff

Medically reviewed by:

HealthCanal Editorial team is a team of high standard writers, who qualified the strict entrance test of Health Canal. The team involves in both topic researching and writting, which are under supervision and controlled by medical doctors of medical team.

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