Ever wonder what are superbugs? They are bacteria that have become defiant to antibiotics. When treated with medicines, they multiply and thrive instead of being eradicated.

These superbugs aren’t just a bother – they are a global health concern. A recent report links it to possibly 10 million deaths per year by 2050. That’s one death per three seconds.

How do they come to be? Superbugs are born from the remains of the bacteria which antibiotics killed. Over time, they become resistant to the very medicines that were designed to destroy them. There are cases in which some bacteria are not only resistant to penicillin, but also to different variations of the antibiotic.

Antibiotics have been around since time immemorial. Their healing powers treated a life-threatening illness. But as antibiotics become ubiquitous in the market, people started doling them out as an instant relief for conditions that could’ve been treated via natural methods. Like common colds for instance. Only they won’t help them recover any quicker because antibiotics are not as effective against viral infections.

Overprescribing and sharing of antibiotics, along with skipping doses, practicing the habit of “saving some for later” and not taking antibiotics at regular intervals as indicated paved to antibiotic resistance. This is one of the many factors on how superbugs came to be.

Good bacteria are eradicated along with the bad ones when someone is overtreated (as most cases) with antibiotics. When a high amount of healthy bacteria is eliminated by antibiotics, bad bacteria are able to thrive, reproduce, and eventually, become resistant to the very  drugs that meant to kill them.

Also, there’s a supply and demand gap in medicines that globally persists today. The supply of new medicines  cannot keep up with the increasing demand in drug resistance, as older medicines that had discarded in the market are now being used more widely and microbes have evolved to defy them.

One example is the antibiotic called Colistin. It was first released in 1959 but abandoned in the 1980’s because it was found to be toxic to the kidneys. Once an antibiotic-defiant superbug emerged on the scene, colistin and other drugs that were once regarded as too dangerous were put on the market and used as last-resort drugs to treat patients that are resistant to other drugs.

On the food industry side, a large number of livestock raised in different countries are overtreated with antibiotics. It is an alarming thought that the very treatment that should be helping us when we’re seriously ill can do more harm than good.

So let’s do the math. You have medical practitioners overprescribing antibiotics. Pharmaceuticals pushing for sales. Food industries pumping animals with unnecessary drugs. The sum equals to a horrifying thought.

As a wise consumer, there are things you can do to reduce the risk of superbugs taking hold.  Here are a few preventive measures that you can do today that will protect you from superbugs:

1. Take Antibiotics the Proper Way
When the situation calls for antibiotics  usage, take them  the right way. Follow the prescription as directed. Avoid the habits of saving some for later.

2. Always Practice Proper Hygiene
Wash your hands frequently using the old-fashioned soap and water, not antibacterial soaps. As much as possible, avoid people who are sick to lessen your risk of getting a bacterial infection. If you’re the one who is sick, consider those around you.  Stay home and allow yourself to recuperate so you don’t put others at risk.

3. Don’t Depend Too Much on Antibiotics
While there are circumstances that antibiotics are proven to be effective and lifesaving, they shouldn’t be treated as the first go-to choice of defense. Unless when badly needed, I highly encourage you to seek natural, non-toxic practices to treat various ailments and conditions,from natural remedies to essential oils.

4. Steer Clear from Factory-Farmed Meats
Because lots of antibiotics are being introduced to animals, it is vital to be selective about the quality of meats you buy. Choose organic whenever you can, strike a conversation with your local butcher to find out how the livestock is raised and  treated when ill. What these animals before they’re sold as meats  have taken in their bodies is worth knowing – after all, you are what you eat.