If dirty hands don’t kill you – let antibiotics do it

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Self-strangling woman
Sloppy hygiene and antibiotics – are we trying to commit suicide?

Don’t kid yourself, they’re both just as deadly – dirty hands AND antibiotics.

Except we trust both, don’t we?

Dirty hands because they don’t LOOK dirty. Antibiotics because – wow! they’re miracle drugs that cure everything.

Killing ourselves

Yeah, right. Suicide either way.

Which is why you’re lying on the floor, looking very dead.

And at the rate we’re going, you’ll soon have lots of company. With many more sick and dying, because of antibiotics.

Dirty hands we can understand, right?

We get germs on them, we swallow the germs – next stop A&E, clamouring for antibiotics.

But antibiotics, what do we know about them?

Pretty well zip – except what our expectations tell us.

Yeah, and just maybe we remember that antibiotics work by killing bacteria.

We’ve got bad bacteria in our bodies, we take antibiotics, the bad bacteria die, job done.

As if.

Our real life force

Truth is that we are all MADE OF bacteria – they outnumber our human body cells 10 to 1. And down in our gut, where most of them live, there’s over 100 trillion of them.

Don’t worry, they’re supposed to be there. They’re like the software that drives our bodies. The OS that digests food for us, produces proteins and regulates our immune system. Supported by millions and millions of apps – this one to control hunger, this one to generate fear, this one to make us bold and brave, this one to help us heal from burns.

Lots and lots of different types, plenty of some, scarce with others – but all living and working in harmony, a natural balance that keeps us active, healthy and thriving.

So now we chuck an antibiotic in there – broad-base amoxicillin or something, to be sure of clobbering the bad guys.

Hydrogen bomb

Spot the mistake. A widely targeting bacteria killer – in a densely packed community of bacteria. A bit like letting loose with a hydrogen bomb. Sure, it takes down the bad guys – and whole families of good guys too, collateral damage.

Oops.

Too bad a few minority clans were wiped out altogether. No more protection from asthma or oesophageal reflux.

Yeah, the other guys will grow back, maybe with a few scars. Maybe with an arm or leg missing, but they’ll be OK. Not the minorities though, they’ve gone for good. Which means the body is not as strong as it was. Part of its defences are missing.

And this happens EVERY TIME we swallow an antibiotic.

Bully for us, we got rid of the sinusitis – we carry on, less able than we were. And because we strong-arm the Doc for antibiotics every time we feel sick, we’re probably doing this once a year or more.

Taking antibiotics for a cure, but making us MORE likely to get sick, both at the same time.

Like we said, we know zip.

Because one thing antibiotics do to surviving bacteria is make them produce more ghrelin.

Never heard of it?

You will. It’s a hormone that says EAT MORE.

More accurately, eat more compulsively.

Uncontrolled gluttony

Eat more, extract more nutrients, you’re not finished, go for the fattening stuff – fast foods, sweets, cakes, sugary drinks, more, more, more!

Oops again. Your switch off eating control is broken. You’re going to get fat and you can’t stop yourself. Size 16, size 18, who cares?

My body, my choice, you say to yourself – not recognising it’s a sickness. Thank you, antibiotics – except none of us make the connection. So next time around, we ask for antibiotics again.

Recognise it now? The obesity trigger. Passport to high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, cancer, infertility, back pain, skin infections, ulcers and gallstones.

It gets worse.

Fatter every day

Because we don’t just get antibiotics whenever we’re sick. We chow them down every day. They’re in everything we eat. Because for more than half a century – when antibiotics were first discovered – they’ve been used to bulk up animals for food – growth promoters that fatten them up in half the time. Plant crops too – more productive in half the time.

Feed the world – Bob Geldof is turning cartwheels.

Yup, everything we eat. Little by little, more antibiotics every day – exactly the way that farm animals get them. Bigger, better, fatter – and nobody’s twigged it yet, though every farmer knows it. It’s why we’ve all got heavier in the last twenty years, why two-thirds of us will be overweight or obese by 2025.

Which brings us back to dirty hands. Why most of the time we probably got sick in the first place. We don’t see the germs, so we don’t know we’re at risk. For instance, thanks to mobile phones, around 28% of us even have poo on our hands.

Wash hands and the problem goes away.

Except we’re more vulnerable than we were before, remember?

Every time an antibiotic bomb hits, we lose a few more billion gut bacteria. At least one prescription, maybe three times a year. And every meal too – breakfast, lunch, supper.

EVERY DAY FOR HALF A CENTURY.

Time to tighten our defences

So we’re way weaker than we ever were. More likely to get sick, less likely to recover. More under threat than ever. Bigger targets – literally – for germs.

Which means clean hands are good – but rapidly becoming not enough.

Time to sterilise our surroundings as well. Eliminate germs from our workplace – wipe them out with hydrogen peroxide mist. Safe, secure – at last.

Oh yeah, and one other thing.

Live longer, stay off antibiotics.

Picture Copyright: lenanet / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-02-09 16:37:30.