I’ll take some antibiotics and (fill in the blank) will be gone tomorrow! Antibiotics are wondrous drugs that can cure infections and contagious, life-threatening diseases. But, antibiotics aren’t always the answer.
Antibiotics are fantastic for curing bacterial infections, but they are powerless against infections caused by viruses, such as flu, colds, most sore throats, bronchitis, and some ear infections. They won’t keep others from catching the disease either. In fact, unneeded antibiotics may lead to future antibiotic resistant infections. Repeated and improper uses of antibiotics are primary causes of the increase in drug-resistant bacteria.
Antibiotic resistance has become a major concern and public health problem.
Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria changes in way that enables it to NOT be affected by antibiotics. Each time a person takes antibiotics, the sensitive (non-resistant) bacteria are killed, but then there are the rebels, the antibiotic-resistant bacteria, that survive and multiply. When exposed to antibiotics, the resistant bacteria says, “Eh, Antibiotics. NBD.”
But it’s a big deal for us! According to the CDC, “Almost every type of bacteria has become stronger and less responsive to antibiotic treatment when it is really needed.” Just like other bacteria, these antibiotic-resistant bacteria can quickly spread from person to person. If the bacteria is resistant to many drugs, then it can become difficult or impossible to treat. So is there anything we CAN do to stop this from happening?
Yes! Here are some tips from the CDC on how you can prevent antibiotic-resistant infections:
- Talk with your healthcare provider about antibiotic resistance:
- Ask whether an antibiotic is likely to be beneficial for your illness
- Ask what else you can do to feel better sooner
- Do not take an antibiotic for a viral infection like a cold or the flu.
- Do not save some of your antibiotic for the next time you get sick. Discard any leftover medication once you have completed your prescribed course of treatment.
- Take an antibiotic exactly as the healthcare provider tells you. Do not skip doses. Complete the prescribed course of treatment even if you are feeling better. If treatment stops too soon, some bacteria may survive and re-infect.
- Do not take antibiotics prescribed for someone else. The antibiotic may not be appropriate for your illness. Taking the wrong medicine may delay correct treatment and allow bacteria to multiply.
- If your healthcare provider determines that you do not have a bacterial infection, ask about ways to help relieve your symptoms. Do not pressure your provider to prescribe an antibiotic.
For more information, check out CDC’s FAQ on antibiotic resistance.
We’re 10 days away from the official start of winter (and the end of the world??) but it’s already getting cold! So bundle up! Drink lots of fluids! And get plenty of rest!
By ALYSSA LLAMAS