Welcome back again!
A new marketing fad has emerged in the hospital where I am practicing. Neatly framed advertisements in the room where we change for surgery, and even on the inside of the toilet doors.
This one advert goes something like this:
“200 Billion starts in our galaxy.
10 billion galaxies in our universe.
Even more bacteria on the earth.”
It is an advertisement of an antibiotic marketed by a certain company, and let me assure you that it’s the understatement of the year!
The number of bacteria living in a single human being is estimated to be 1 000 000 000 000 000 that is 10 to the power 14, or one-thousand-trillion!!!
But I am a bit worried about the wrong message this advert may bring across. You see, they are saying that there are SO MANY bacteria, and that you need their antibiotic drug to fight these bacteria.
A baby in the mother’s womb (a fetus) is sterile, so no bacteria is found in or around the fetus. Shortly after birth the baby’s body is invaded by millions of bacteria, and they reproduce at a huge rate.
Antibodies in the baby’s bloodstream, originating from the mother’s immune system, protect the baby. The baby’s immune system will start taking over the necessary defensive functions over the next couple of months.
The point I want to make is this…
Most bacteria are either quite innocent (in specific areas of the body) or to your advantage – serving quite useful functions like assisting with the digestive process and protecting you from being invaded by disease producing organisms.
In other words most bacteria living on your skin, mucous membranes and gut are your friends!
Do not go into medicine thinking that all bacteria are bad or that they are our enemies. Only a relatively small number of bacterial species are disease forming.
A healthy human body (maintaining a healthy diet and enough exercise), given a bit of time, will be able to ward off most attacks by disease forming microorganisms without the help of antibiotics.
Please do not misunderstand me. Antibiotics and antiseptic preparations have their place, and save many lives yearly, but the overuse of these agents are causing major problems.
One problem is the emergence of super-bacteria.
These stubborn organisms are able to survive most or ALL known antibiotics. They kill high numbers of patients in hospitals, for example, in intensive care units, especially medically compromised patients like diabetics!
- Most bacteria in the human body serve a useful purpose.
- The overuse of antibiotics and household antiseptics are producing super-resistant bacteria.
- Do not over-prescribe antibiotics. A healthy body’s immune system can protect and defend successfully against the majority of microbial attacks.
- Do not overuse household antiseptics. There is no good reason to add any antiseptic agent to soap for day-to-day household use.
Until the next letter, I wish you all the best my friend,
||Dr. Anton Scheepers, BChD, MDent, FFD(SA), MFOS, President of The Apprentice Corporation|