Do you ask your GP for antibiotics every time you catch a cold? As antibiotics only work for bacterial infections and not virus-caused illnesses like colds or flus, your prescription could do you more harm than good.
Instead of helping you get well, overuse of antibiotics can mean that the medication will be less effective when you need to treat a severe infection in the future. What’s worse, it can help spread antibiotic-resistant bacteria – commonly referred to as ‘superbugs’ – in the community. Therefore, the National Prescribing Service (NPS) has launched an important campaign encouraging all Australians to become ‘resistance fighters’ and join the fight against antibiotic resistance.
NPS clinical adviser Dr Danielle Stowasser says that resistant bacteria is a growing problem and poses a serious threat to the health and wellbeing of all Australians.
“Since antibiotics were first used in treatment nearly 100 years ago, they have been vital in the fight against infectious disease,” says Dr Stowasser.
“But over time, the misuse and overuse of these medicines globally has led to the creation of highly resistant bacteria, which cause infections that are harder and harder to treat. We need action at both a community and individual level to combat the development of these superbugs, before we lose the power of antibiotics forever.”
Australians are amongst some of the highest users of antibiotics in the developed world, with around 22 million prescriptions written every year. If at least 35,000 Australians pledge to join the fight against antibiotic resistance this will help bring our use in line with the average of other OECD countries.
“If we don’t act now to combat the development and spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, we risk returning to an era where an infection from something as a simple as a scratch could cause serious complications, or even death. In fact, the World Health Organisation has labelled antibiotic resistance as being one of the greatest threats to human health today,” Dr Stowasser says.
If you feel like crap….
If you get a cold or flu, remember that it’s important to take time to rest. Drink plenty of water and non-alcoholic fluids, for example hot water with honey and lemon. If your nose is blocked, try to inhale steam from a hot bath. Gargling warm salty water can soothe a sore throat, or try sucking on an ice cube or a throat lozenge.
Become a resistance fighter
- Understand that antibiotics are only effective against bacteria and not viruses, which are what cause
colds and flu.
- If you catch a cold or flu, treat the symptoms and let your immune system fight the virus. Even some infections caused by bacteria – like most ear, nose, throat and chest infections – can be fought by our immune systems and don’t require antibiotics.
- If you’re prescribed antibiotics, always take them exactly as directed by your doctor. Be aware that not doing so contributes to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
- Spread knowledge, not infections. This means always practising good hygiene. Wash your hands and cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. And don’t stop there – encourage those around you to become resistance fighters too.
- Join the resistance fighters at Facebook –
www.facebook.com/npsmedicinewise – and pledge to take simple actions to help fight antibiotic resistance