Fighting Back Against Antibiotic Resistance
The truth is, if we don’t act on the inappropriate use of antibiotics, we could face a world without effective treatments to serious and deadly infections.
Antibiotics are generally used to help your body fight against bacteria, but they aren’t always necessary. Antibiotic resistance happens when bacteria change to protect themselves from an antibiotic, making bacterial infections much harder, if not impossible to treat. The overuse and misuse of antibiotics is increasing the problem of antibiotic resistance. We are all part of the problem and the solution.
Our body is designed to fight many types of infections, from viral and fungal to bacterial, and generally it is exceptional at doing this. Unfortunately all battles take time, so you may feel unwell for a few days or more, before your body starts to win the war on infection.
Antibiotics are ideally used when your body is struggling to win the war in fighting that particular bacteria. This may be because your immune system isn’t strong enough or you weren’t vaccinated against that organism. Antibiotics aren’t free from risk; they can have serious side effects including hearing loss, and allergic reactions that can lead to death. In rare cases, using antibiotics causes more harm than good.
The more antibiotics we use inappropriately (e.g. unnecessarily or not completing a full course) the faster the world will be overcome by bacteria that no longer responds to our medicines. This means organ transplantations, chemotherapy and surgeries become much more dangerous.
So what can you do?
There is a simple answer to this question. Think twice before taking antibiotics and decide if you feel they are really needed.
• Always follow your health worker’s advice when using antibiotics.
• Don’t demand antibiotics if your doctor says you don’t need them.
• Don’t share or reuse antibiotics - Only take antibiotics prescribed for you, by your doctor for that illness – each bacterial infection is different, and will respond to different types of antibiotics. (This means taking antibiotics designed for a urinary tract infection, for your cough won’t work, and will only increase antibiotic resistance!)
• Be patient. Not all infections are bacterial, and even when they are, this doesn’t mean your body won’t be able to fight it off.
The truth is however that the best treatment is prevention so it’s important to always get vaccinated, prepare food hygienically, avoid close contact with sick people, practice safe sex,
wash your hand regularly and cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing.
So make sure you spread the word on good antibiotic etiquette.