The next time you start a course of antibiotics, you may want to consider your resistome.

While it sounds like a French labor movement, your resistome is much more flexible. A resistome is a personal set of antibiotic-resistant genes in bacteria which can be modified.

“Antibiotic treatment leads to long-term enrichment of antibiotic resistance genes and promotes transfer to pathogens,” according to a reviewers Molly K Gibson and colleagues in Antibiotics and the developing infant gut microbiota and resistome which appeared in Current Opinion in Microbiology journal.

Bacteria—good or pathogenic—didn’t outlive the dinosaurs by giving up every time an antibiotic showed up. Only now are scientists beginning to understand what happens to microbes when antibiotics descend upon them.

Studies have revealed short-term and even persistent alterations to the adult gut microbiota community. These changes can make the bacteria more effective in resisting future antibiotics. Across the globe, antibiotic resistance is surging as pathogens including Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) and methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) proliferate. C. difficile  was estimated to cause almost half a million infections in the United States in 2015. An estimated 29,000 deaths annually in the United States are directly attributable to C. difficile infections.
MRSA infection is caused by a type of staph bacteria that’s become resistant to many of the antibiotics used to treat ordinary staph infections.

Staph and MRSA can cause a variety of problems ranging from skin infections and sepsis to pneumonia and blood infections. Most people acquire these deadly infections in the very place they go to get better—a hospital.
Antibiotics may not work when we really need them against deadly organisms including those two.
And we have not only ourselves to worry about. If resistance lies partly in the genes, the threat rises dramatically because now we can pass the resistance to future generations.

Besides staying away from hospitals, what can be done?

Resist taking antibiotics

Colds and flu beg for cures but antibiotics are powerless against viruses. Get lots of sleep, the best tonic of all.

Boost your immune system

Prebiotics (foods with fiber) and probiotics (cultured dairy, kimchi, unadulterated sauerkraut, pickles…) as well as a multi-strain supplement.