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Knocked Out?

"Knock Out Punch or Just a Knock Down Punch"

In the boxing ring, a fighter often succeeds in knocking his opponent down as he endures the mandatory count of 10 signifying that he is the victor of the match. Lost in his private celebration of success, he is sometimes disappointed to find that at just the last moment, his opponent pushes himself up off the mat and initiates a renewed attack. It seems as if the 9 seconds down invigorated and energized his opponent with all the skills he needs to win the match. Hmm, maybe he needed a KNOCK OUT PUNCH, not a knock down punch.

One can easily compare this fight with antibiotics vs. bacteria.

The antibiotics enter the ring with a huge advantage and in most cases find themselves the champion easily defeating the bacteria. If antibiotics are given as prescribed, this really is an unfair fight; but nope, humans frequently enter the microbial ring and mess it all up.

Bacteria are really dirty fighters you see, never following the rules for a fair fight, while humans are forgetful and think they know more about germ warfare than the invisible enemy. Antibiotics are very powerful and can easily knock the bacteria down which makes the human in charge think that the battle is won; they feel better and become forgetful or hurried and fail to finish a prescribed course of their antibiotics.

At this point, the knock down count is about 5 and another week passes without the once or twice daily antibiotic combat assault on the bacteria. At the count of 6 or 7, the bacteria is pushing itself to his knees and is almost ready to stand and start another vicious attack, only this time, the bacteria has gained the advantage.

While lying down, playing possum so to speak, the bacteria’s DNA has devised a mutation to avoid that same knock down punch. Should the human decide he is not quite well after all and re-starts his antibiotics- which can only fight the battle with the same tired weapons of last week- the fight is now with a different, stronger enemy that has learned to resist that particular punch. You’ll now have to take him down with a different method.

This, in a nutshell is what we refer to as antibiotic resistance.

The super intelligent bacteria uses those few doses of antibiotics to change itself into a more powerful opponent that can easily take a knock down punch and not be killed. However, if antibiotics are administering daily assaults, it cannot survive this. Therefore, occasional doses only serve to make it stronger and smarter than the antibiotic, which cannot change it’s molecular structure depending on daily environmental changes.

So, the secret to killing bacteria is to keep it down, delivering a knock out punch every day for the full course of the antibiotic regimen. Remember if it’s only knocked down, it will get back up, you have to KNOCK IT OUT, not knock it down.

Dena Warth

Primary Care Pediatrics

Millington, TN

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