Health bosses are warning patients of the dangers of antibiotics resistance and the need for patients to use antibiotics wisely.
The advice comes from NHS Southern Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group ahead of European Antibiotics Awareness Day on 18 November.
Antibiotics are important medicines for treating infections caused by bacteria. Most common illnesses, such as coughs, colds, sore throats and stomach upsets, will get better by themselves without the need for antibiotics.
If patients use antibiotics when they are not needed, the bacteria causing the illness can build up resistance. This means that those antibiotics will not work to treat illnesses in the future and there are very few new antibiotics in the development pipeline. By not using them unnecessarily, they are more likely to work when we need them.
Resistance to antibiotics is rapidly increasing, with some countries seeing drug resistance rates more than double in the past five years. Research has shown that over use of antibiotics can leave people susceptible to other infections such as MRSA and Clostridium difficile that are harder to treat.
Resistance is also caused when antibiotics are not taken for the fully prescribed course. Taking only a partial course of antibiotics means that bacteria will be exposed to the antibiotic but are not given a strong enough course to kill them, resulting in the bacteria surviving and replicating. Consequently, future strains may be more likely to mutate and develop resistance. A survey found that a quarter of people who are prescribed antibiotics don’t finish the
Dr Sheila Newport, Chair of NHS Southern Derbyshire CCG, said:
“Using antibiotics to treat common, mild illnesses unnecessarily speeds up the problem of antibiotic resistance. Antibiotics certainly have an important and often lifesaving role in healthcare, but prescribing them unnecessarily contributes to the problem of bacteria developing resistance to the antibiotics that they would have once been susceptible to.
“Your doctor will only prescribe antibiotics when you need them, for example for a kidney infection or pneumonia. When antibiotics are prescribed, it is important that patients always take them as directed and complete the course to get rid of the bacteria completely and so they can stay effective in the future.
“People need to be aware that antibiotics are only effective against bacterial infections and they do not work against virus infections such as those causing colds or most coughs. If you are suffering with cold symptoms or a sore throat you should rest, take enough fluids (to avoid feeling thirsty) and speak to your pharmacist who will advise you on over-the-counter remedies, such as paracetamol, that are available.
“It is important that antibiotics are only prescribed for bacterial infection, and that these are taken as prescribed. It is essential that you follow your doctor's directions carefully. If you are given antibiotic medication then it is important that you take the medicine responsibly. Don't save some of the medicine for the next time you're sick. If you skip even one or two doses, some bacteria might be left in your body and resist future antibiotic treatment.”
European Antibiotics Awareness Day is a European-wide event encouraging the responsible use of antibiotics, to slow down the development of antibiotic resistance and to help keep antibiotics effective for the future.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
NHS Southern Derbyshire CCG represents 57 GP practices and is responsible for the healthcare of 525,000 patients in Derby and Southern Derbyshire. It is one of four clinical commissioning groups in Derbyshire.
Rob Hill, Head of Media Relations
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