ANTIBIOTICS are used to treat or prevent some types of bacterial infection. They work by killing bacteria or preventing them from reproducing and spreading.
It’s important that patients use antibiotics in the right way ensuring they are only taken when needed to treat specific bacterial infections. Antibiotics can’t help treat colds or flu, in the majority of cases plenty of rest at home and staying well hydrated is the best cause of action.
In recent years antibiotics are losing their effectiveness at an increasing rate. The more we use antibiotics, the greater the chance bacteria will become resistant to them.
The overuse of antibiotics has led to the emergence of ‘superbugs’. These are strains of bacteria that have developed resistance to many different types of antibiotics, including:
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
Clostridium difficile (C. diff)
These types of infections can be serious and challenging to treat, however you can prevent the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria by remembering the following advice:
1) Antibiotics should only be taken when prescribed by a doctor or other health professional.
2) Complete the prescribed course, because not taking the full course encourages resistance.
3) Antibiotics can’t treat infections caused by viruses, such as common colds or flu, because antibiotics are only effective against bacterial infections.
4) Each antibiotic only works against specific types of bacteria, and health professionals are best placed to establish your needs with the available medicines.
5) Patients shouldn’t share antibiotics with anyone else.
6) Resistant bacteria, i.e. C.diff can spread from person to person.
For information about the safe use of antibiotics speak to your GP or pharmacist. For more information visit http://www.nhs.uk