A book called The Microbe Hunters thrilled me as a boy.
It explained how bacterial diseases were responsible for killing millions of people in the past – and how years later antibiotics saved them. But even so, the World Health Organization (WHO) still warns that a sore throat or a scratched knee could kill us. The best defence is a strong immune system.
Dr. Margaret Chan, former Director-General of WHO, says we are at the end of modern medicine. She claims there is now a global crisis, a slow-motion tsunami, that has been building for years and is getting worse. The problem: super bacteria that are resistant to multiple antibiotics.
Chan reports that superbugs are great global travellers. They now haunt hospitals and intensive care centers in every region of the world. I’ve often stressed, entering a hospital can be extremely dangerous.
Recently, antibiotics cured cases of tuberculosis. Now, resistant bacteria have increased the mortality of this disease by 50%.
During the past few years, treatment guidelines for certain diseases have been changed in the attempt to keep ahead of resistant bacteria. But it’s often a losing battle. This means that common diseases such as gonorrhea may become untreatable. It’s almost unthinkable that doctors may have to say, “I’m sorry, but there is nothing I can do for you.”
What is particularly frightening is how these superbugs will affect us in multiple ways. Fortunately, patients who require surgery still have successful results. But on rare occasions, patients enter hospital for a routine operation and die from a post-operative superbug infection.
Chan claims in the future superbugs will become a major surgical hazard. In effect, is the risk of dying from a post-operative infection too great to replace an arthritic hip or knee? Or is chemotherapy, which decreases immunity, too risky to treat cancer?
What has caused this disastrous situation? It’s overuse of a good thing. It’s patients who insist on antibiotics when time and nature would cure the trouble, or not realizing that antibiotics treat bacterial infections and cannot cure viral ones.
The food industry also shares some blame. Namely, it has used massive amounts of antibiotics to produce growth in animals, rather than limiting antibiotic use to treatment of infections. This, despite WHO’s urging that antibiotics, critical for treating human infections, not be used in animals.
I do not see this folly ending. But we can all help to slow down this potential disaster. Remember that the common cold, flu, ear and most throat infections are due to a virus and won’t respond to antibiotics.
According to Chan, the future for humans is grim. Pharmaceutical companies are hesitant to spend huge sums searching for new potent antibiotics when they will only be of use for a short time.
For the moment, the best defense is a healthy immune system. This means a healthy lifestyle of exercise, nutritious diet, sufficient sleep, managing stress, not smoking and moderate alcohol use.
Research has proven that the real muscle of the immune system is fortified by maintaining high levels of vitamin C in the blood. Small doses of 65-90 milligrams won’t do it. Make it your daily routine to take 2,000 mg with breakfast and the same amount again with the evening meal. The powdered form of vitamin C found in health food stores allows for easy mixing in a glass of water or orange juice. These higher doses assure that white blood cells will always contain 80 times more vitamin C than is normally present to fight infection.
So what’s the big error? Waiting for a bad infection to strike with weak white blood cells lacking vitamin C and unprepared to fight. This is when a scratched knee or sore throat may kill.