Concern about the rise of antibiotic use and the growth of antibiotic resistance in the population is on the rise. Professional bodies such as the World Health Authority have highlighted this issue and recommended simple work arounds to reduce the dependence on antibiotics. Thorough hand washing is one of the best preventative measures to reduce the spread of infection thuis leading to less dependence on antibiotic treatments.
What are antibiotics?
Antibiotics are medicines that fight or prevent infection caused by bacteria. Antibiotics can’t fight viral infections such as cold and flu.
What is antibiotic resistance?
Antibiotic resistance is the ability of bacteria or other microbes to resist the effects of an antibiotic. Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change in some way that reduces or eliminates the effectiveness of drugs, chemicals, or other agents designed to cure or prevent infections. The bacteria survive and continue to multiply causing more harm.
What kinds of infections are caused by viruses and should not be treated with antibiotics?
Viral infections that should not be treated with antibiotics include:
- Most coughs and bronchitis
- Sore throats (except for those resulting from strep throat)
- Some ear infections; the illness can lead to serious disability or even death.
Why should I be concerned about antibiotic resistance?
Antibiotic resistance has been called one of the world’s most pressing public health problems. Almost every type of bacteria has become stronger and less responsive to antibiotic treatment when it is really needed. These antibiotic-resistant bacteria can quickly spread to family members, schoolmates, and co-workers – threatening the community with a new strain of infectious disease that is more difficult to cure and more expensive to treat. For this reason, antibiotic resistance is among health professional’s top concerns is more difficult to cure and more expensive to treat.
Antibiotic resistance can cause significant danger and suffering for children and adults who have common infections, once easily treatable with antibiotics. Microbes can develop resistance to specific medicines. A common misconception is that a person’s body becomes resistant to specific drugs. However, it is microbes, not people that become resistant to the drugs.
If a microbe is resistant to many drugs, treating the infections it causes can become difficult or even impossible. Someone with an infection that is resistant to a certain medicine can pass that resistant infection to another person. In this way, a hard-to-treat illness can be spread from person to person. In some cases, the illness can lead to serious disability or even death.
Why are bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics?
Antibiotic use promotes development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Every time a person takes antibiotics, sensitive bacteria are killed, but resistant germs may be left to grow and multiply. Repeated and improper uses of antibiotics are primary causes of the increase in drug-resistant bacteria.
While antibiotics should be used to treat bacterial infections, they are not effective against viral infections like the common cold, most sore throats, and the flu. Widespread use of antibiotics promotes the spread of antibiotic resistance. Smart use of antibiotics is the key to controlling the spread of resistance.
When is it OK for me to take antibiotics?
Doctors prescribe antibiotics to help treat illnesses that are caused by bacteria. These illnesses include infections, such as strep throat and urinary tract infections.
How should I take the antibiotics that my doctor prescribes?
Follow your doctor’s directions carefully. Take all the antibiotic medicine your doctor prescribes to you. Don’t save the medicine for the next time you are sick. If you skip even one or two pills, some bacteria might be left in your body and resist future antibiotic treatment.
When are antibiotics not needed?
Antibiotics are not needed for and won’t work against viral infections, such as cold, the flu or mono (mononucleosis). Every time you take antibiotics when you don’t need them, you increase the chance you someday will get an illness caused by resistant bacteria. You should not ask your doctor to give you or your children antibiotics for a viral illness. Instead, ask your doctor what you can do to feel better while your body fights the infection.
What else can I do to reduce the risk of antibiotic resistance?
Wash your hands with soap and water before you eat and after you use the bathroom. Regular hand washing will help keep you healthy and reduce the need for antibiotics.
Providing well maintained hand-washing facilites in your premises is a key factor in helping stop the spread of disease and reducing the need for anitbiotics.
Do your bit for World Health – have your washroom professionally maintained by the team from NWR Hygiene Group,