Dame Sally’s antibiotics nightmare just got bigger

Large girl exercising
Keep on with antibiotics and soon, we’ll all look this way

Actually, it’s not one nightmare, it’s two.

And they haven’t just happened, they’ve been growing for fifty years.

Antibiotics resistance and obesity.

Both “as dangerous as terrorism”. Exploding in slo-mo, right now.

No more miracles

Already half of our antibiotics – the miracle drugs without which modern medicine would be impossible – fail because of superbugs. And with no new “silver bullets” coming down the pipeline, any day now they’ll stop working altogether.

That’s nightmare No 1.

An unstoppable disaster caused by horrendous over-use. Not just by medicine, where antibiotics are prescribed for everything from a heart transplant to repairing a pulled fingernail. But by agriculture across the board, where antibiotics are used at industrial levels to support high intensity farming techniques.

Industrial level?

And the rest. Currently, farmers around the world are shovelling 65,000 tonnes a year into livestock and plant production, skyrocketing sharply to 108,000 tonnes by 2030.

Strictly for animal health, of course – essential to modern, high-yield, concentration camp farming, where herds and flocks breed shoulder-to-shoulder.

With shhh, the very useful side-effect that antibiotics make everything grow twice as big and twice as fast on even less feedstuff. Fattening up for market. Amazing. Growth promotion de luxe.

Which brings us to nightmare No 2.

Bigger, better, fatter

Because it’s not just animals growing fatter, faster – it’s people.

Already 64% of UK adults are classed as overweight or obese – a number that accelerates daily.

More dangerous than terrorism?

Do the math.

How many terrorist bombs would it take to destroy the lives of 13 million people? All of who are at risk of heart disease or stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, gallstones, osteoarthritis, gout and breathing problems, even asthma.

It’s not nice being fat either. So add problems with stress from ridicule, low self esteem, physical inability, possibly suicidal tendencies.

More than half of us written off from “over-eating” – if you believe the experts.

Which is when you begin to realise the real horror staring Dame Sally in the face. Professor Dame Sally Davies, that is – England’s very energetic and concerned Chief Medical Officer.

Over-eating what?

Animals fed on antibiotics to make them grow fatter, is what.

Which poop out manure to make plants grow bigger and fatter, is what too.

Plants that are also fed antibiotics anyway to keep down blight and other diseases.

Growing in soil which drains to our streams, to our rivers, to our reservoirs and into our taps.

So that EVERYTHING we eat or drink is laced with drugs to make US grow fatter, faster too.

Get ready to bulge

Fat, obese and super-obese – that’s where we’re headed. Rapidly becoming the biggest threat to human survival on the planet. And Dame Sally’s biggest ever headache.

Oh sure, SOME fatties are fat because they’re gluttons – obsessed with food so they eat themselves stupid. But even that suggests that something is wrong somewhere, that somehow their systems are glitched so they can’t help themselves.

But where does that leave the rest of us?

Are we really all victims of a sedentary lifestyle – cliché-ridden couch potatoes, scoffing fast food and sugar-laden drinks in front of the TV? That might be the media hype, but what’s the reality?

Don’t some of us eat almost nothing, tiny morsels like a bird, and still get fat? AND can’t drop the weight off, even though we work out for two hours at a time, five days a week?

How come it’s selective – that some of us are, and some of us aren’t? And how come is it that the older we become, the more at risk we seem to be?

Yeah well, it’s them antibiotics what done it.

Our background diet since before childbirth. A steady intake of fatten-you-up drugs in everything we ingest across the entire food spectrum. Absorbed for our whole lifetimes – exactly the same way as all those cows and pigs and sheep and chickens and salmon we’re so fond of.

And remember how antibiotics work – the only thing they actually do.

They kill bacteria.

Miracle drugs, sure.

Except that our bodies are bacteria too – 90% bacteria and 10% human.

And oops, down in our gut, there are upwards of 100 trillion bacteria – the welcoming committee for any antibiotics coming down the hatch. Blasted to hell and gone in the middle of digesting our food for us, producing proteins, and regulating our immune systems – exactly what our amazing bacteria do for us, every day.

The full catastrophe

Obese? Why are we surprised? Our bacteria have been killed off or graunched in the most fearful ways.

But all of our metabolisms are different, so they react differently too. No two of us are the same.

Some extract more nutrition than they need too, some less. Some fail on certain food groups. And all the while, our body resistance goes steadily more haywire, every day more vulnerable, more susceptible to infection and disease.

Allergies for instance, who ever heard of the misery we have now, fifty years ago?

Yeah, so Dame Sally is right about how to handle the antibiotics problem.

Stop everything, now.

STOP!

Start again

And find some kind of alternative food source while residual antibiotics work themselves out of the food chain. For us personally, that’s got to be grow our own at home without fertilisers – supplemented with ocean fish, not those farmed jobs.

Will it trim our waistlines? Probably not, the damage has been done, so those spare tyres are here to stay.

One thing though, without antibiotics as a safety net, we’re going to have to tighten up on our hygiene. Wash hands for everything, eliminate germs in our living space with a Hypersteriliser.

At least we’ll sleep easy with it. No more nightmares, like Dame Sally has now.

Back Off, Bacteria! is the blog of Hyper Hygiene Ltd, supplier of what we’re convinced is the most effective health protection system in the world. A fully mobile, all-automatic Hypersteriliser machine mists up workplaces with ionised hydrogen peroxide, spreading everywhere and eliminating all bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Hypersteriliser units are supplied to businesses and institutions across the UK, notably the haematology and other critical units at Salford Royal Hospital, Greater Manchester; Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospital; South Warwickshire Hospital; Coventry & Warwickshire Hospital; and Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead.

The Halo Hypersteriliser system achieves 6-log Sterility Assurance Level – 99.9999% of germs destroyed. It is the only EPA-registered dry mist fogging system – EPA No 84526-6. It is also EU Biocide Article 95 Compliant.

Originally posted on 28 December 2018 @ 10:32 pm

Originally posted on 28 December 2018 @ 10:32 pm

Death by antibiotics: choose quick or slow

Sick girl
Antibiotics – not the kind of lifesavers you expect them to be

No, no, not death that’s anything to do with your doctor.

If you’re on antibiotics right now, they’ll probably save your life. And your doctor is a professional, she knows what she’s doing.

Death sentence

Short term if you’re ill, antibiotics are a life saver. They also present us with the same sentence, though – impossible though it seems. Death by antibiotics is an uncomfortable reality.

Except the choice is largely ours – quick or slow, it’s up to us.

First the quick way. It could be days, it could be months – but if we’re careless or unlucky, death is only too possible.

Like, if you’re taking antibiotics and you don’t finish the course. Or worse, if you dose yourself with some left over from last time. That’s you, not your doctor – and it’s you who will pay the price.

Bam, bam hammer

Think of antibiotics like a great big hammer that bashes your infection – bam, bam, bam! – repeated heavy blows to clobber your illness out of existence.

So what happens if the hammer doesn’t hit enough times, or only gives one feeble blow? Which is what happens when you don’t take all the pills.

The illness isn’t beaten, is it? Not totally defeated, so it lives on. Picks itself up and restores itself to its former strength – like something out of Terminator – bacteria are very good at this.

With one very vital difference.

They now know the hammer is coming, and are ready for it – have sussed how to dodge it, or just tough it out. So the hammer does nothing. It is ineffective. The illness has become resistant and is now unstoppable.

So your Doc has to find another kind of hammer, or a sword, or a whatever – a new way to attack your illness to make sure it’s totally annihilated. Another antibiotic that is still effective, not resisted against by infecting bacteria.

Which is exactly how antimicrobial resistance (AMR) develops – a big problem for modern medicine right now. Pathogenic bacteria is not hit hard enough or long enough, so they survive revitalised to live another day.

With ongoing immunity to overcome being hit again. Unstoppable. And untreatable.

Bacteria win – again

So through your own actions, it could be the end of you. Especially if complications set in and your own body doesn’t have the strength to fight them off. Sorry, unless you’re lucky, death is going to happen.

Then there’s the slow way.

Not something that any of us might feel right now, but possibly even MORE inevitable.

Because it’s already on the go.

Down in our insides, our own gut bacteria – the ones that keep us alive and process our digestion among thousands of other things – have already been clobbered by antibiotics and are reacting out of control.

How can we tell?

Check your waistline.  How are you doing with the battle of the bulge?

If you’re like most of us adults, you’ve already noticed unwanted pounds piling on without you consciously knowing anything about it.

Not nice, overnight we’re fat – and getting fatter.

Not our fault. But not much we can do about it either.

Because that’s from residual antibiotics contained in the food we eat. From the 240,000 tons of the stuff that is fed to animal livestock around the world every year – vital veterinary support for the giant, super-intensive factory farms that supply us with meat, veg, greens, everything.

Huh?

Unfortunately all too true – and this is where it gets messy. Because modern farms are not the nice cuddly places we see in picture books. And the animals are not as happy either.

Stressed, crowded and in shockingly unhygienic conditions , without antibiotics, those animals would die. Instead, they grow and thrive with amazing accelerated development – fattened up by antibiotics to sometimes twice the size – and in half the time – the farmer’s double jackpot.

Fast food – from the farmer’s angle. Money in the bank, quick, quick, quick.

Except by eating that same food, with every meal WE’RE ingesting those same antibiotics too. With the same effect on our gut bacteria that they had on the animals. They promote growth, big time.

Our kids grow up faster – almost adults before they even hit their teens. And we grow fatter. And fatter. All too soon swapping Size 16 for the misery of Size 18.

Yeah, welcome to obesity – our latest world-wide epidemic, courtesy of antibiotics.

With one hell of a price to pay.

Being overweight is not healthy, our bodies can’t cope. So we start on the slippery slope of chronic illnesses – diabetes, heart disease, cancer and many others. Slow, debilitating and degrading afflictions that take decades to develop – long, miserable illnesses that all lead to death.

Can we ever escape?

Only by being as healthy as we know how.

If we keep ourselves clean and free of germs, washing hands whenever we think of it, infections can never get to us, we don’t need antibiotics in the first place.

Same thing if we eat healthy – switching to organic, stepping away from mass-produced foods to home-grown wholesomeness and nary an antibiotic anywhere near them, ever. Not easy, but it can be done – though you’re unlikely to be visiting your supermarket again.

Which means you don’t have to choose at all now. You should live long and healthy.

Sure death happens to all of us, but it’s reassuring to know. Live right and it’s only going to happen when it’s supposed too.

Picture Copyright: denisnata / 123RF Stock Photo

Our antibiotics price-tag: weaker, more vulnerable

Unhappy fat girl
Galloping obesity – the one effect of antibiotics nobody wants to talk about

They save lives.

Modern surgery would be impossible without them.

Anywhere an incision needs infection control – unthinkable without effective antibiotics to protect us from harmful pathogens.

Introducing non-miracles

Wonder-drugs, but beginning to be useless.

Because after more than half a century of intensive and continuous use – numerous bacteria have developed resistance – our miracle medicines are about as effective as Smarties.

Any visit to hospital, any accident or infection, and we’re all of us susceptible to an increasingly common slew of superbugs – MRSA, salmonella, streptococcus, c.difficile, TB, gonorrhoea and e.coli.

Which means doctors can’t use antibiotics in the critical situations where they need to. Not without taking chances. Or working the long way round. The hard way.

By ramping hygiene levels up high enough that infection can’t happen – washing hands, and making the surroundings sterile.

Hike up hygiene levels or else

Which is why a lot of hospitals are advancing beyond traditional wipe and scrub methods. Just because it smells of chlorine doesn’t mean it’s sterile. Nor does rub-and-scrub always disinfect everything. Under tables, behind cupboards, tangles of cable get missed out.

So does the air itself, probably 80% of any room space. More crucial than most of us ever realise, with each of us trailing around our own personal bio-plume of bacteria unique to each of us. Personal good bacteria – and personal bad bacteria – possibly harmless to ourselves, but a real problem to anyone with an underlying health condition.

Knowing this, hospitals are starting to treat air spaces just as much as surfaces. Pulsing them with ultraviolet light – or misting them up with hydrogen peroxide.

Count on it, we’ll soon start seeing similar procedures everywhere – at work, in schools, in restaurants and hotels, on planes, ships and buses – regular treatment to keep them sterile.

With good reason.

The dirty secret

Because there’s a massive downside to antibiotics that we’re only now becoming aware of – one that government and big business are trying very hard to keep quiet.

They’re making us weaker and more fragile than we were – less resilient, with less stamina – not the invincibles we once were. Compare us with our grandparents back in the in the 50’s and we’re a sorry shadow of ourselves.

All from over-use of antibiotics on an industrial scale – a world consumption 65,000 tons a year and rising rapidly.

But not in medicine – in agriculture.

You see, back in the 50’s, when antibiotics were discovered, the farming industry picked them up as healthcare for livestock. So much of farming involves mud and dirt that hygiene is next to impossible.

Antibiotics gave farmers a way of compensating for the lack of it. Their animals were protected against disease and infection by regular additions to their feed. Their profits were protected too.

Very soon, they began to notice something else. That animals on antibiotics, particularly fed from young, developed faster and bulked up heavier – bigger and more impressive, ready for market earlier – AND didn’t eat so much.

That did it. Because the principle worked everywhere. Beef cattle, dairy cattle, pigs, sheep, poultry – all of them developed faster, bigger – for even better profits.

Which is how the farming industry worldwide gets through 65,000 tons a year – in all likelihood set to double in the next ten years. Everybody wins, brilliant.

We’re the losers

Except for us.

Because the animals are on antibiotics all the time, right? Not like us, taking them for 10 days to clear an illness – regular doses in every feed, every day.

So antibiotics are in their systems – and have been for 50 years.

Which means they’re in us too. Not to the same level of course, but a regular part of our diet, every single day.

Not just in meat either. Livestock manure is highly prized as a high performance fertiliser. So there’s antibiotics in plants too – in varying quantities. In tubers such as potatoes – they’re pretty concentrated. The great British staple – mash, boiled, chips. We’re mainlining on the stuff.

You can see where this is going, can’t you? From the soil into the plants. And from the soil into the watercourses, leaching into the aquifers, into our rivers and streams, our reservoirs – ready and waiting for us at every twist of a tap.

Uh huh. For the last 50 years, every mouthful we’ve taken of pretty well anything has had antibiotics in it.

And if you think about how antibiotics work, they’re not exactly kind to us. They kill bacteria – and inside us that’s brutal. Because down in our gut there are more than 100 trillion bacteria living harmoniously – a synergistic arrangement where they do the work and we take it easy.

Bacteria digest most of our food for us. They make proteins to power us up. They even help regulate our immune system – set a good bacteria to catch a bad bacteria, a deal our bodies made with them millions of years ago, when we crawled out from under a rock.

But antibiotics kill bacteria. Not just the bad ones, but a lot of the good ones as well. Ones that we need to keep our bodies well. Suddenly clobbered because they were there. They got in the way. Killed in the fallout.

An internal atom bomb

Because that’s kind what it’s like when an antibiotic capsule dissolves in your belly. An atom bomb going off – among a population of trillions. Which is how, very often, a course of antibiotics can bring on a whole wodge of side effects – cramps, vomiting, diarrhoea, itches, rashes, wooziness, the works.

Yeah, the bad guy bacteria get killed. A lot of the good guys get killed, maimed or orphaned at the same time. They don’t perform as they used to – they’re weak, crippled, prevented from doing stuff. And it’s our bodies that suffer the consequences.

OK, penicillin – 1955. Discovered by Sir Alexander Fleming, sixty years ago.

Which means pretty well every one of us grew up with antibiotics being fed to us every day. Three meals a day, 365 days a year – every day for the thirty years we might have grown up to today – 32,850 doses of antibiotics in our system. No wonder we’re weakening!

Like allergies. Where do they come from? Rare as hen’s teeth back in the Fifties. Common as anything now. Peanuts, milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, soy, wheat – where will it end. And why?

A glitch in the system

Because our bacteria took a hit, that’s why.

And they’ve been taking a hit every day since before birth – because Mum’s diet had antibiotics in it too. So our immune systems are reprogrammed – hacked and rearranged, so they glitch when there’s nothing there – or kick in when they’re not supposed to.

Exactly when we need more protection because antibiotics don’t work, we’re weakened, more disease-prone and less able to recover from the same cause.

All done by antibiotics.

And here’s the kicker – the final insult.

They make us bulk up too. Particularly in early years. Just like the cows and pigs and lambs and chickens. Bulk up big and develop faster.

Except we call it getting fat. Doctors call it obesity.

Yes we can blame our diet too – however we try to finagle it. Too much carbohydrates, cut back on proteins, eat more vitamins – makes no difference.

Because regardless of what we eat, it’s sure to have antibiotics in it.

And yes, fatness is in our genes – but our genes are modified by our bacteria. And our bacteria are fighting with their hands tied behind their backs.

One hell of a price-tag, hey?

Workplace germs never worried us before, why are they so urgent now?

Business germ threat
Not worried about workplace germs? Not if you’ve taken precautions – like sterilising the place every night

The world has changed since we last looked. What worried us then is different to now.

Back then, germs were a fact of life. You caught a cold, you sneezed your way through it. And everyone else caught it too.

Now you catch a cold, you can bring a whole business down.

Heavyweight experts working to a deadline – one of them conks, the whole project goes down the tubes. The whole team off sick, total disaster.

The germs were always there. But with expectations of 100% performance all of the time, that’s rapidly becoming unachievable.

No wonder we’re all worried.

And people assets these days are expensive. They need to be motivated. Constantly persuaded to stay and not join the competition.

The threat we dare not ignore

Which is why bosses spend thousands on workplace wellness programmes. To keep staff sweet and wanting to perform.

With things like flu vaccinations, health and lifestyle coaching, stop smoking programmes, nap rooms, fresh fruit and vegetables, stress reduction programmes, fitness programmes and gym membership, on-site medical clinics, weight loss clinics, therapy and massage, right down to company fitness trackers.

Well, well, well.

Workplace wellness – all about wellbeing.

Nothing about KEEPING staff well and healthy healthy. Or protecting them from stress and health threats. Not the slightest mention of AVOIDING germs.

Yet germs have always been with us – and always will be.

But because we’re expected to perform 100% of the time, nobody would ever dare let a germ slow them down. Not unless it was serious. Doctor, medicine and maybe even hospital. Certainly days off.

Which is unacceptable, and possibly a career threat – would our jobs still be there when we came back?

Unwell at work – more costly than sick leave

So if germs ever strike us, we try to ignore them. Shuffling in to work, feeling like death, determined to go through the motions. “Presenteeism” it’s called – 10 times more costly than regular sick leave.

We grit our teeth and the childhood memories kick in – Nan and Grandad never gave in to colds like this. They had them, sure – but seemed better able to cope. Stronger somehow.

Which indeed they were. More resilient too.

And not because our lifestyles are softer. We don’t have the same immunities that they had. We’re more sensitive. More susceptible to infections as well.

Not that we’re worried about it. We just go to the Doc, get some pills – and hey-ho, it’s off to work we go.

Uh huh.

Those pills.

Antibiotics, right? The magic medicines Nan and Grandad never had. All-round fixer-uppers – we strong-arm the Doc for them for every little ailment. Grow up with them  through all the childhood illnesses. So that by the time they’re twenty, the average teenager has been on antibiotics 17 times.

Which means our bodies have an easier time than our grand-parents’ did. Growing up without the hard fights that they went through. Making us softer, gentler, weaker.

Without all the immunities that they had too.

Atom bombs in our gut

Every time we take antibiotics, our microbiome goes through a major upheaval. Down in our gut are 12 trillion bacteria living in harmony with us – aiding our digestion, creating proteins, managing our immune systems and a thousand other things.

Releasing an antibiotic into that lot is like setting off an atomic bomb. Antibiotics work by killing bacteria – and they do. Taking out the bad guys giving us a hard time – but taking out a lot of the good guys too.

Effective, yes – but not so good at targeting only the right ones. Sure there’s thousands of others to replace the casualties . But often the rarer ones are wiped out completely. And once they’re gone, they’re gone. We recover from our illness, yes – but our bodies never fully return to the way they were.

So that generation to generation, our immunities diminish. The good bacteria that defend us from a particular kind of bad ones just aren’t there any more.

Not really a problem because our lifestyles are so much better than our grand-parents’ were. Better food, better living conditions, better hygiene standards, better medical care.

Except that’s not our only exposure to antibiotics.

Super efficient growth boosters

Because agriculture uses them as growth boosters, they’re in everything we eat as well. Micro-doses in all our meat, fish, vegetables, cereals, grain and fruit.

Which work on our bodies in exactly the same way as the farmers use them for. They fatten us up.

Right there is the greatest overlooked problem of our time. Doctors are worried about our high exposure to antibiotics because bacteria are becoming resistant to them.  More rapidly than they would like, our miracle medicines are no longer making people better.

But they are making them fatter. Fatter and fatter and fatter. It’s staring us right in the face but nobody twigs it. We’re swallowing small amounts of highly efficient growth boosters every day, not realising that’s why two thirds of us are overweight or obese.

And what does obesity do? Sets our not-quite-as-strong-as-our-grandparents’-bodies on the long and very bumpy road to asthma, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. A road on which antibiotics no longer work – our miracle defences are taken away from us.

Which should explain why we ought to be worried about workplace germs.

So many of us herded together in the same space – breathing the same air and touching the same objects. It’s the ideal opportunity to catch each other’s germs and pass them on.

And those germs are there alright. Just as they always have been. In the air and on surfaces we share – touchscreens, keypads, light switches, door handles. Waiting to have a go at our less resilient and increasingly overweight bodies.

The nightly antidote

Yet overnight, those germs can be eliminated. In addition to the usual vacuuming and wipe downs, just follow up by misting with hydrogen peroxide and the whole place is sterilised. Germs are oxidised to nothing, there are simply no illnesses to catch.

OK, so it adds a few hundred to the monthly cleaning bill.

But the thousands saved by not trying to do our jobs tied down by a tummy upset or lingering flu? By not making mistakes or missing vital deadlines? Or infecting our high-powered colleagues on the tight deadline job that MUST be finished on time or the contract falls through the slats?

Yeah, we never worried about workplace germs before.

But we should now.

Unless of course we’re all safe and sterilised.

Then we’re not worried, we’re laughing.

Picture Copyright: wavebreakmediamicro / 123RF Stock Photo and sorad / 123RF Stock Photo