World Antibiotic Awareness Week
18 November - 24 November 2019
With no new types of antibiotics since the 1980’s and 700,000 people estimated to be dying globally from drug resistant infection (25K die each year in Europe) antimicrobial resistance is an undeniably serious and growing global problem, one caused by overuse and misuse of antibiotics both in human medicine and in agriculture
The World Health Organisation says “Without urgent, coordinated action by many stakeholders, the world is headed for a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries which have been treatable for decades can once again kill.”
We need to preserve antibiotics for when we really need them and we are calling on the public to join us in tackling antibiotic resistance by listening to your GP, pharmacist or nurse’s advice and only taking antibiotics when necessary. Taking antibiotics just in case may seem like a harmless act, but it can have grave consequences for you and your family’s health in future.
Why it is relevant to you:
without effective antibiotics many infections and routine treatments will become life threatening eg basic operations, even chemotherapy and animal health they all rely on access to antibiotics that work.
What we would like you to do:
- Ask your pharmacist to recommend medicines to help treat cold or flu symptoms or pain
- If prescribed take antibiotics exactly as prescribed, never save them for later, never share them with others.
- Do not request antibiotics for cold and flu symptoms or other infections which are likely to be viral eg sore throat, ear infection, shingles
- To spread the word, tell your friends and family about antibiotic resistance
Top tips For Taking Antibiotics
Select the right antibiotic - Do not use ‘old’ antibiotics that you have from a previous infection. It may not be the right type for your current problem.
Read the package insert - As with any drug, you should read the package insert and medication label carefully before commencing with the medication. Take special note of the proper dosage and contraindications. If any concerns discuss with prescriber or your pharmacist.
Complete the entire course - The entire course of antibiotics should be completed as directed on the label. It is important to take every pill even if you are feeling better before the end of the course. Otherwise by stopping it prematurely you run the risk of the infection recurring. It may return worse than before and be difficult to treat the second time around. Do not save any pills for the next time that you are ill.
Never miss a prescribed dose -Missing a dose reduces the effectiveness of the antibiotic and can allow the bacteria a chance to survive and it may worsen your condition. Missing doses contributes to antibiotic resistance especially if you do not complete the entire course. Co-ordinate your antibiotic intake with regular daily activities eg meal times so as not to forget a dose.
Do not share antibiotics - Antibiotics that are prescribed for you should only be used by you as they are tailored for your infection, weight, age and seriousness of your infection.
Expect digestive side effects - Antibiotics have side effects which can vary depending on the type of antibiotic, dose and individual sensitivity. Digestive symptoms are quite common side effects from using antibiotics. It can range from mild nausea, to severe abdominal pain and diarrhoea. These side effects usually subside during and after the course but speak to a doctor if persist.
Follow up after completing the course - A follow up consultation is usually not necessary for mild infections that are easily treated and where the symptoms have resolved completely. If your symptoms do not resolve or worsen then you need to contact your doctor.
Beware of worsening or new symptoms - Antibiotics usually take a couple of days to have an effect. If the symptoms worsen or new symptoms start, contact your doctor so they can reassess you.
Antibiotics don’t work for everything - short video
Health Education England promoting awareness of antimicrobial resistance - short video
Leaflet on how to protect yourself, your family and friends against the spread of antibiotic resistance -become an antibiotic guardian
Leaflet for treating your infection – respiratory tract infection (in community)
Urinary tract infection - a leaflet for older adults and carers
Leaflet for parents : When should I worry - Your guide to Coughs, Colds, Earache & Sore Throats
NHS webpage on antibiotic resistance
Please help us to preserve antibiotics for health today and tomorrow by following the guidance below:
- Antibiotic resistance is a threat to your health
- Good hygiene is essential in reducing the risk of spread of infections and is especially important in households with individuals who have long-term illnesses
- Antibiotics do not work for ALL colds, or for most coughs, sore throats or earache. Your body can usually fight these infections on its own
- Taking antibiotics encourages harmful bacteria that live inside you to become resistant. That means that antibiotics may not work when you really need them. This puts you and your family at risk of a more severe or longer illness. Take your doctor or nurse’s advice when it comes to antibiotics
- Antibiotics are important medicines and should only be taken when prescribed by a health professional
- When antibiotics are prescribed by a health professional it is important that you always take them as directed, never save them for later and never share them with others
- Antibiotics can have side effects as they upset the natural balance of bacteria potentially resulting in diarrhoea and/or thrush. The use of inappropriate antibiotics may also allow other more harmful bacteria to increase. Antibiotics also cause other side effects such as rashes, stomach pains and reactions to sunlight
- Antibiotic resistant bacteria don’t just affect you, they can spread to other people (and animals) in close contact with you and are very difficult to treat
- How to look after yourself and your family: If you or a family member are feeling unwell, have a cold or flu and you haven’t been prescribed antibiotics, here are some effective self-care ways to help you feel better:
- Ask your pharmacist to recommend medicines to help with symptoms or pain
- Get plenty of rest
- Make sure you or your child drink enough to avoid feeling thirsty
- Fever is a sign that the body is fighting infection and most fevers will get better on their own. Use paracetamol if you or your child are feeling uncomfortable
- Make sure to use a tissue for your nose and wash your hands frequently to avoid spreading your infection to family and friends
- If you’re worried, speak to a doctor who will be able to advise you on the best treatment for your symptoms
- For more information on antibiotics visit: www.nhs.uk/nhsengland/arc/pages/aboutarc.aspx.
- become an Antibiotic Guardian and protect yourself, your family and friends against the spread of antibiotic resistance at www.antibioticguardian.com.