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Take care, not antibiotics

A local GP is reminding people of the impact the overuse of antibiotics can have on our ability to treat serious infections.

Antibiotic resistance is one of the most significant threats to patients’ safety all over the world; not only is it a waste of NHS resources, but the biggest worry is that new strains of bacteria may emerge that can’t be effectively treated by any existing antibiotics due to overuse.

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.

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.

Dr Catherine Doyle, local GP and Clinical Lead for Medicines Management at NHS Warrington Clinical Commissioning Group said: “To slow down the development of antibiotic resistance, it is important to use antibiotics in the right way – to use the right drug, at the right dose, at the right time, for the right duration. Antibiotics should be taken as prescribed and never saved for later or shared with others.

“For example, we now know that antibiotics are not effective in treating colds and other flu-like symptoms. So if you are experiencing these types of symptoms you should drink plenty of fluids, rest and if you need some pain relief take some paracetamol.

“You can help these vital medicines from becoming obsolete:

  1.  Recognising that many common infections, such as coughs, colds and stomach upsets, are often viral infections that will go away after a short period without treatment. These infections do not need an antibiotic prescription as they will have no effect.
  2.  If you are prescribed an antibiotic (or any other medicine), it is also important to make sure you take the full course as prescribed, even if you feel better before you finish the course. This will reduce the chances of the organisms being exposed to the drug but then surviving, allowing them to develop resistance if they encounter it again. It will also increase the chances of you getting better, as by not taking a full course you may find the infection comes back and requires further antibiotic prescriptions, which further increases the chances of resistant organisms developing.”

Warrington Borough Council’s executive board member for public health and wellbeing, Cllr Maureen McLaughlin, added: “Antibiotic resistance is a problem that will affect every one of us, so we all have a role to play. That’s why we’re encouraging local people to follow their doctor or nurse’s advice when it comes to the need for antibiotics.

“Antibiotics are essential to treat serious bacterial infections, but it’s really important that you don’t use them unless you really need them.  Your doctor is the best professional judge of this. Antibiotics don’t work for things like the common cold or other viral infections, and many minor illnesses will clear up in their own time. If we all think carefully about our antibiotic use, we can help preserve the effectiveness of these vital medicines for future generations.”

If you need health advice, you can visit your local pharmacy or contact NHS 111 – available free of charge, 24 hours a day, seven days a week (including bank holidays) by dialling NHS 111.

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