World antibiotic awareness week is an annual, global event that raises awareness of the serious health issue of antibiotic resistance. The event aims to encourage people around the world to use antibiotics responsibly – both prescribing practitioners and individuals taking the medications.
What is antibiotic resistance?
Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria learn to change to protect themselves from an antibiotic. When this happens, the antibiotics that would have previously killed the bacteria and stopped them from multiplying, no longer work. This means that infections are harder to treat and can lead to increased hospitalisations or in some cases death.
Antibiotic Fact Check
- Antibiotics do not work for all infections. They only work on bacteria and therefore treating viruses like common colds and flu’s with antibiotics does not change the course of the illness.
- Bacteria become more resistant to antibiotics, not your body. Resistance occurs when bacteria change/mutate to protect themselves from an antibiotic. If antibiotics are taken inappropriately or incorrectly there is a higher chance resistance will build.
- Antibiotic resistance is already impacting our health. This won’t just affect us in the future, it is already affecting us now.
- Sharing antibiotics and using leftover antibiotics can increase antibiotic resistance. Ensure that you take the prescribed dose correctly and complete the whole course of treatment. You should not share your antibiotics with another person and you should also discard any left over antibiotics.
- Patients and doctors contribute to the problem. Trust in your GP when they suggest that an antibiotic is not the necessary course of treatment for your presentation.
Some examples of bacteria that have already built resistance to some antibiotics include E. Coli – responsible for many Urinary Tract Infections and ‘Golden Staph’ – the cause of many skin infections. As a result of increasing antibiotic resistance, we are starting to see failure of the last resort antibiotic for Gonorrhoea.
The problem belongs to everyone – patients, doctors and the community. The aim is to use antibiotics more responsibly. Begin by pledging:
- I will not ask for antibiotics for common colds.
- I understand that antibiotics do not speed recovery in viral infections
- I will only take antibiotics as they have been prescribed
- I understand that it is possible to pass on resistant bacteria to others.
- I will aim to make a greater effort with my hand washing to prevent the spread of bacteria.