Antibiotics are used to treat or prevent some types of bacterial infections. They work by killing bacteria or preventing them from spreading.
However, a lot of the time they aren’t required or appropriate. This is because
♦ Many mild bacterial infections can be cleared by your immune system without using antibiotics.
♦ Antibiotics aren’t effective against viral infections, such as the common cold, flu, most coughs and sore throats.
♦ Taking antibiotics always alters the normal (good) bacteria in your body. This often results in side effects such as diarrhoea and can increase the risk of other more serious infections developing.
Taking antibiotics inappropriately increases the risk of antibiotic resistant bacteria developing.
The below video describes how antibiotic resistance can develop in bacteria.
The picture below is taken from a leaflet produced by the website www.antibioticguardian.com. It describes what antibiotic resistance is, what the consequences of antibiotic resistance are and what we can do to prevent it.
What do we mean by antibiotic stewardship?
Antibiotic stewardship is the appropriate use of antibiotics to keep their effectiveness in the future. So when one of us has a serious, life-threatening infection there are antibiotics that will work against the infection.
The infographics below highlight why there is a growing need to act NOW before it is too late.
The short film below highlights what life might look like in a post antibiotic age.
The government has set out a plan to halve the inappropriate prescribing of antibiotics in the UK by 2020. This plan sets out a number of things that the public can do to help.
What you can do to help?
The following video and the text below describes what you can do to help combat antibiotic resistance.
In order to prevent antimicrobial resistance consider the following points:
1. Follow advice on self-care
If you are suffering with a cough, cold, sore throat, ear infection or sinusitis please follow advice on self-care. In order to help with this we have compiled information from a range of resources on this website. Click here for more information on self care.
2. Speak to your local community pharmacist
If you have read the information but are still unsure and want further advice speak to your local community pharmacist. They will be able to
♦ Provide reassurance around what the normal symptoms are and how long they should be expected to last for.
♦ Provide advice on whether any over the counter or non-drug remedies might be suitable.
3. Use prescribed antibiotics correctly as directed
If you are prescribed antibiotics, take them exactly as your healthcare professional tells you (the amount and when to take will be on the label), never share them with others and never save them for later. Take any unused medicines to your community pharmacy for safe disposal.
4. Spread the word
Tell family and friends about antibiotic resistance. You can sign up to be an antibiotic guardian and chose a pledge. Antibiotic Guardian Pledges are available in some languages other than English. If you use twitter you can share your pledge and tweet with the hashtag #antibioticguardian
Next page – Self Care – Introduction