By the end of this week, most Australians will have been infected with a yeast infection, according to a new study.
Key points:Experts have linked the rise in the number of cases of yeast infections to the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteriaThe findings come after a report said that the use of antibiotics could cause more deaths in the futureThere are two main reasons why the rise is occurring, says Professor Stephen McArthur of the University of Adelaide, but both stem from a shift in how people have used antibiotics.
“It’s not just the use that’s changing, it’s the uptake of antibiotics that’s changed, particularly in the last few decades,” Professor McArthur told the ABC’s Insiders programme.
“I think what’s happened is people have got much more access to these antibiotics than they have in the past, and the amount of antibiotics they’ve been given has increased.”
This has led to a rise in people’s use of the drug diclofenac, which is a powerful antibiotic but is extremely toxic to the body.
“That means that when people are exposed to the drug, the drug itself can cause a lot of damage,” Professor Peter Devereaux, a microbiologist at the University for Western Australia, told Insiders.
“When you’re exposed to a high dose of the antibiotic, it can cause serious side effects and in extreme cases it can lead to kidney damage.”
He added that the drug had been shown to increase the risk of infections and death, which was “probably the main reason for it”.
“There’s no doubt about it, in some ways it’s a little bit like the Big Bang.”‘
No doubt about the rise’Professor Devereux said that this could be linked to a “superbug” in humans.
“You’ve got a lot more people who have an infection and it doesn’t take a lot to cause a problem,” he said.
“But it is becoming increasingly clear that we’re starting to see the emergence of this ‘superbug’ that is resistant to the antibiotics, which in the case of the diclosporins has caused a huge increase in cases.”
He said the problem was becoming more pronounced in people who had taken antibiotics for at least 10 years, and was particularly worrying in young people.
“The numbers of diclocs being prescribed in the community is probably the biggest cause of this problem,” Professor Devereau said.
He said he believed the rise was partly due to a shift from the use and sharing of antibiotics.
Dr Devereault said he had seen an increase in the use among doctors and the public, and a “narrow focus” on the use.
“A lot of doctors are looking at dicliclosporin [prescriptions] and they’re just focusing on diclasporin, but they’re not really focusing on how to use the other antibiotics, or how to avoid diclisporin,” he told Insides.
“We’re looking at this new antibiotic that’s being promoted as a miracle drug that is incredibly good at treating yeast infections, and yet we’re seeing an increase.”
Professor Deveaux said it was also a “matter of increasing resistance”.
“It is becoming more and more clear that there are two major reasons for the rise, and one of them is to make it more difficult for the resistance to evolve,” he added.
“One of the other major causes is the increased availability of antibiotic agents, particularly to treat infections of the urinary tract.”
In the past antibiotics have been used to treat infection in the urinary system, but that is no longer the case.
“Professor McArthur said the rise could also be linked with the increased use of probiotics.”
There are a lot people who are not using antibiotics anymore, so they are being used more frequently for these purposes,” he explained.”
They are also becoming less expensive, which means that the prices of those things have gone up.”‘
This is the new dirty secret’Dr Deveault said the findings should not be seen as a problem for the community, but as a positive development.”
What we’re finding is that the community has been able to adapt, which has allowed us to see a decline in dicclosporin use in the population,” he noted.”
So we’re actually seeing the increase in use of these antibiotics that are not only very effective, but are very cost effective.