The rise of antibiotic resistance and raising global awareness
Antibiotics are not the wonder-drug that most people believe them to be. They are only useful in treating bacterial infections including chest, ear and throat infections. They may also be prescribed to people at high risk of infection as a precaution, known as prophylaxis.
Antibiotics should not be used to treat colds, most coughs and sore throats, as they may be caused by viruses which antibiotics cannot treat and they may have more side effects. There has also been little discovery of new antibiotics meaning there will not be another alternative when you need it most.
The overuse of antibiotics on humans and animals has become a growing problem across the world, causing the emergence of antibiotic resistance. This means they are now less effective on bacteria in treating, methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), clostridium difficile (C. diff) and tuberculosis. In serious cases these types of infections can lead to death and disability. Worldwide, at least 700,000 people die each year due to drug resistance in bacterial infections.
If the spread of antibiotic resistance does not slow down, there will be a higher worldwide death rate from antibiotic resistance, as well as surgery and chemotherapy being too risky to undertake because of the risk of infection.
How to reduce the development of antibiotic resistance:
- Avoid pressurising your doctor to give you antibiotics. Only use them when you really need them.
- Regularly wash your hands and practice good hygiene.
- Avoid close contact with sick people.
- Keep up to date with your vaccinations and make sure your children receive the recommended vaccinations.
Always take drugs as prescribed by your doctor:
- Do not skip doses of antibiotics.
- Taking your antibiotics at regular intervals.
- Dispose of left over antibiotics.
- Do not share antibiotics with others.
Help to spread the word by telling friends and family how to properly use antibiotics, helping to slow down antibiotic resistance and potentially save lives.
Watch the Public Health England’s antibiotic awareness advert here.