WITH the cold and flu season on its way many people believe their GP should prescribe antibiotics, when in actual fact the drugs have no effect on the viruses that cause colds, flu and many coughs. Antibiotics are important medicines for treating bacterial infections in both humans and animals. However, bacteria can adapt and find ways to survive the effects of an antibiotic. Antibiotic resistance is an everyday problem in all healthcare settings across England and Europe. The spread of resistant bacteria in hospitals or community healthcare settings is a major issue for patient safety:
- Infections with antibiotic-resistant bacteria increase levels of disease and death, as well as the length of time people stay in hospitals.
- Inappropriate use of antibiotics may increasingly cause patients to become colonised or infected with resistant bacteria.
- Few new antibiotics are being developed. As resistance in bacteria grows, it will become more difficult to treat infection, and this affects patient care.
This means antibiotics are losing their effectiveness at an increasing rate. The more we use antibiotics, the greater the chance bacteria will become resistant to them and they can no longer be used to treat infections. Antibiotic resistance is one of the most significant threats to patients’ safety. It is driven by overusing antibiotics and prescribing them inappropriately. To prevent antibiotic resistance the best thing we can practice is self-care. This means keeping fit and healthy, as well as knowing how to take medicines, treat minor ailments and seek help when you need it.
If you have a long-term condition, self-care is about understanding that condition and how to live with it. Many of the common ailments and illnesses like colds, sore throats, headaches, hangovers, upset stomachs, coughs, aches and pains are easily treated at home, or with advice from a pharmacist – with no need to see a doctor or nurse. If you get a common illness, please speak with your local pharmacist who can provide you with the best treatment. It can help to keep a well-stocked medicine cabinet at home to treat a variety of common conditions.