Antibiotics are life-saving drugs that treat bacterial infections and reduce serious complications of disease. Unfortunately, due to misuse and inappropriate prescribing, these medications are becoming increasingly less effective, and some have stopped working altogether.
Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change in a way that reduces –or totally eliminates– the effectiveness of the drug designed to kill them. While antibiotic resistance is a natural phenomenon, the misuse and overprescribing of antibiotic medication is speeding up the process.
According to the CDC, at least 30 percent of antibiotics prescribed in the United States are unnecessary, and most of these unnecessary prescriptions are prescribed as treatment for viral infections. Viral infections such as the common cold, flu, bronchitis, coughs, sinus and ear infections do not respond to antibiotics. This misdirected treatment puts patients at risk of harmful side effects and may promote medication-resistant bacteria.
Use Antibiotics Responsibly
- If you’re suffering from a condition caused by a virus, remember that antibiotics won’t cure the infection or help you feel better. Talk to your doctor about other medications that will be effective and beneficial for your illness.
- If you’re prescribed antibiotics for a bacterial infection, take the medication exactly as directed. It’s critical to complete the full course of medication, even if you start to feel better. If even one bacterium survives an antibiotic treatment, it can multiply and pass on its resistant properties.
- Never take leftover antibiotics for a later illness. It may not be the appropriate antibiotic, and it won’t be a complete course.
- Preventing infection altogether can also help reduce antibiotic use and resistance. Practice good hygiene and follow food safety guidelines.
- While viral Upper Respiratory Infections tend to have more severe symptoms and last longer than an average ‘cold’, antibiotics are not the answer. The medication will be ineffective and will also kill off good gut bacteria that is important to your health! It’s best to let your immune system do the work. Please follow your doctors’ advice and communicate if signs and symptoms get much worse.