A consultant pharmacist is raising awareness about appropriate use of antibiotics as winter sets in.
Health professionals are warning people of the risks if antibiotics are used too widely, as the bacteria causing infections may become resistant to the drugs. This means that antibiotics may not work when you really need them and can put you or your family at risk of a more severe or longer illness.
Andy Karvot, consultant pharmacist in antimicrobials across Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust, wants people to stop and think before turning to their GPs with the idea that a simple cough or cold should be treated with antibiotics. Andy has spoken out during World Antibiotic Awareness Week, which aims to increase awareness of antibiotic resistance and to encourage best practices among the public and healthcare staff to avoid the further emergence, and spread of antibiotic resistance.
He said: “The common cold or flu should not need such medication as antibiotics don’t work against these viral infections and most will disappear within a week or so. Simple relief such as paracetamol, cold and flu remedies, decongestants, cough syrups and plenty of rest and fluids will often be enough. Head to your local pharmacist who will be able to recommend the appropriate medicines. To prevent spreading these infections to your family and friends, make sure you’re washing your hands often.”
Antibiotics are used to treat or prevent some types of bacterial infection. They work by killing bacteria or preventing them from spreading. But they do not work for everything.
The overuse of antibiotics in recent years means they’re becoming less effective and has led to the emergence of ‘superbugs’. These are strains of bacteria that have developed resistance to many different types of antibiotics.
Andy added: “When it comes to antibiotics, take your doctor’s advice on whether you need them or not. Antibiotic resistance is a big problem – taking antibiotics when you do not need them can mean they will not work for you in the future. You must use the full course of antibiotics as recommended, even if you start to feel better and never share antibiotics with others.
“Taking antibiotics should be a last resort for suspected bacterial infections. Antibiotic resistance is one of the most significant threats to patients’ safety worldwide, as we will run out of antibiotics to treat serious infections.”
To find out more about antibiotics, visit the NHS website: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/antibiotics/