By Tabibi 24/7
Antibiotics are certainly one of the great advances in medicine, responsible for saving countless lives. However, misuse and overuse of these drugs have contributed to a phenomenon known as “antibiotic resistance”. This means that antibiotics that used to be standard treatments for bacterial infections become less effective or don’t work at all. Any bacterium that survives an antibiotic treatment can then multiply and pass on its resistant properties. Also, some bacteria can transfer their drug-resistant properties to other bacteria — as if passing along a cheat sheet to help each other survive. As antibiotic resistance grows to be a pressing public health concern worldwide, wise use of antibiotics became very important.
You can help reduce the development of antibiotic resistance through the following tips:
What to Do
- Ask your doctor if there are steps you can take to feel better and get relief from your symptoms without using antibiotics. Sometimes, symptomatic treatment is all you need. At other times, the safest prescription is to wait-and-see, where antibiotic prescribing is delayed until the need for it is justified.
- If an antibiotic is prescribed, follow directions for proper use. Failure to take an antibiotic as prescribed can contribute to antibiotic resistance.
-Complete the full course. It’s important to take all of the medication, even if you are feeling better.
-Do not skip doses. Antibiotics are most effective when they are taken regularly.
-Measure liquid doses carefully for your child. Use the dispenser in the package, a measuring cup or a graduated syringe. Using household utensils can lead to dosage errors.
- Ask your doctor about vaccines recommended for you and your family.
-Vaccines are an effective way of preventing infections that may require an antibiotic.
-Vaccines are also an important way of keeping diseases from spreading.
What Not to Do
- Never take an antibiotic for a viral infection like a cold or flu. Antibiotics do NOT cure viral infections such as:
-Most sore throats
-Most coughs and bronchitis (chest colds)
-Many sinus infections
-Many ear infections
- Never pressure your doctor to prescribe an antibiotic.
- Never skip doses or stop taking an antibiotic early.
- Do not save antibiotics. You might think that you can save an antibiotic for the next time you get sick, but an antibiotic is meant for your particular infection at the time. Never take leftover medicine.
- Do not take antibiotics prescribed for someone else. These may not be appropriate for your illness, may delay correct treatment, and may allow your condition to worsen.
*Consequences of antibiotic resistance:
For many years, the introduction of new antibiotics outpaced the development of antibiotic resistance. In recent years, however, the pace of drug resistance has contributed to an increasing number of health care problems.
The increasing number of drug-resistant infections results in:
- More-serious illness or disability
- More deaths from previously treatable illnesses
- Prolonged recovery
- More-frequent or longer hospitalization
- More doctor visits
- Less effective or more-invasive treatments
- More-expensive treatments
Finally, remember that antibiotics fight bacteria not viruses. Rushing for antibiotics can put you or your child at risk of undesirable effects and antibiotic-resistant infections.