It’s December and with the slight nip in the air or with temperatures dropping come to all common illnesses like fever, cold, cough, sore throat, body ache etc. It’s a very common sight to find most people self-medicating with antibiotics. Every second person knows about it from the previous prescription or just by walking into the chemist’s store voicing their symptoms and getting their strip of antibiotics, like Azithromycin, Erythromycin, Amoxicillin, Cefuroxime, Cefixime etc. But, I really doubt if these people even know what antibiotics are and what they are used for!
Most of the people have this notion that it is a magic pill for common ailments like cold, cough, fever. Also, most are of the belief that with one or two doses of these tabs, they will be immediately cured of their ailment.
Well yes, I would say it is a magic pill but only for BACTERIAL INFECTIONS! Not all cold , cough, fever are due to bacterial infections, many a times its of viral infections which are self-limiting and needs to be controlled with paracetamol, taking rest and antibiotics have no role in treating viral infections.
So what are Antibiotics?
Antibiotics are powerful medicines that fight bacterial infections. When used properly, antibiotics save lives. They either kill bacteria or keep them from reproducing. Your body’s natural defenses can usually take it from there.
Common viral infections that do not benefit from antibiotic treatment include:
- Flu (influenza)
- Most coughs
- Most sore throats
- Some ear infections
- Some sinus infections
- Stomach flu (viral gastroenteritis)
Frequent and irrational use of antibiotics can cause Antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic resistance occurs when an antibiotic has lost its ability to effectively control or kill bacterial growth; in other words, the bacteria are “resistant” and continue to multiply in the presence of therapeutic levels of an antibiotic leading to treatment complications and increased healthcare costs.
In spite of growing awareness of antibiotic resistance in recent years, overuse still occurs for a number of reasons:
- Doctors may prescribe antibiotics before receiving test results that identify the actual cause of infection.
- People who want quick relief from symptoms, regardless of the cause of illness, may pressure doctors for antibiotic prescriptions.
- People may take antibiotics over the counter or via the Internet for self-diagnosed illnesses.
- People may take antibiotics that are leftover from a previous prescription.
Consequences of Antibiotic resistance
- More-serious illness or disability
- More deaths from previously treatable illnesses
- Prolonged recovery
- More-frequent or longer hospitalization
- More doctor visits
- More-expensive treatments
“Then what do we do to get better”, patients ask??
Antibiotic Stewardship is the answer for this problem which is basically the appropriate use of antibiotics.
Many hospitals and medical associations have implemented new diagnostic and treatment guidelines to ensure effective treatments for bacterial infections and reduce inappropriate use of antibiotics.
The public also plays a role in antibiotic stewardship. You can help reduce the development of antibiotic resistance by taking the following steps:
- Use antibiotics only as prescribed by your doctor.
- Take the correct daily dosage and complete the entire course of treatment.
- If for some reason you have leftover antibiotics, kindly consult your Doctor before self-popping as they might not be the correct antibiotic.
- Never take antibiotics prescribed for another person.
- Don’t pressure your doctor to give you an antibiotic prescription. Ask your doctor for advice on how to treat symptoms and look into Lifestyle options for better prevention.
- Practice good hygiene.
As for viral infections like common flu, we can fight it by building our immunity by modifying our lifestyle for the better. Eat right, exercise often, de-stress and make sure you sleep well to give your body the much needed rest.
So let’s bid adieu to 2016 on a healthy note and a pledge to Stop Antibiotic Resistance!
Vijay Sardana says
Good article, we must stop use of Antibiotic and ask people to take precautions in place of antibiotics.