RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. - When you get sick, a typical course of action includes a doctor's visit, many times followed by antibiotics. But many in the medical field believe those antibiotics could be doing more harm than good in the long term.
"Antibiotic resistance is the ability of bacteria to change in a way that actually reduces the effectiveness of antibiotics, and so this is a really serious concern for epidemiologists for health care providers because we're running out of antibiotics to treat certain infections," said Dr. Patricia Cummings, from Eisenhower Medical Center, who spoke with CBS Local 2's Kelley Moody about U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week, a time dedicated to raise awareness for antibiotic resistance and the importance of appropriate antibiotic prescribing and use.
Cummings said bacteria are adapting and learning to outsmart antibiotics. She recommends asking for symptom relief medication as opposed to antibiotics when you're sick and also says to shop smart and buy meat that is antibiotic-free.
Uriel Gonzalez said that after one of his family members was diagnosed with cancer, he's been more vigilant at the grocery store.
"It makes us wonder, what have we been eating for so long that has been laced with all these antibiotics; all the chemicals for so long?" said Gonzalez.
But the concern is not that we are consuming antibiotics through our meat, it's livestock becoming infected with bacteria that has become resistant to treatment by antibiotics, which can lead to a spread of foodborne illnesses like E. coli or salmonella.
"If we don't do anything right now, by 2050 about 10 million people worldwide will be dying from drug-resistant bacteria," said Cummings.
She said Eisenhower Medical Center has future plans to continue to spread the word on antibiotic resistance locally and recommends these tips to be preventative on your own:
- Don't pressure your doctor to prescribe or refill prescriptions for antibiotics.
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Don't visit anyone in the hospital if you yourself are sick.
- Do not go to work if you are in the food service industry and feeling sick.
- Stay up to date on all vaccines.