The antibiotics we rely on to fight infections and save lives just aren’t working as well as they used to. We can all do our bit by making a pledge to become an antibiotic guardian and make better use of antibiotics.
Although this blog post was written for World Antibiotics Awareness Week 2015, this is an always-on campaign, as antibiotic resistance is an always-on problem.
Antibiotics: the facts
- Antibiotics are not effective against coughs, colds, flu and most sore throats. Most coughs, colds and most sore throats and flu are caused by viruses, which antibiotics do not work against.
- When you have a cough, cold or sore throat, check with a pharmacist first about how to treat my symptoms. A pharmacist is an expert on medicines, and can help you treat your symptoms and pain with over the counter treatments. Pharmacists can also advise you whether or not you need to see a doctor. For info on how to manage common winter illnesses check out this NHS Choices page
- Taking antibiotics when you don’t need to allows bacteria to develop a resistance to the antibiotic. Bacteria adapt and find ways to survive the effects antibiotics. The more you use an antibiotic, the more the bacteria become resistant to it.
- Always take antibiotics as prescribed or they may not clear the infection. Antibiotics are given at a specific dose over a period of time to be optimal to clear an infection. Changing the dose may reduce the effectiveness of the antibiotics and enable bacteria to develop drug-resistance.
- Antibiotic-resistant infections are serious because without effective antibiotics many routine treatments or operations like chemotherapy, surgery, and Caesarean sections will become increasingly dangerous or impossible. In the European Union alone, drug-resistant bacteria are estimated to cause 25,000 deaths every year.
Pledge to become an antibiotic guardian
Whether you’re a member of the public, a farmer, a health professional or a health policymaker, we can all do our bit by making a pledge to become an antibiotic guardian. All it involves is selecting a pledge from a list of things you will start to do differently, to help preserve antibiotics, and it only takes a minute. Over 36,000 people have already made their pledge. Visit the Antibiotic Guardian website by clicking the logo below to make yours, and when answering How did you hear about us? please select Community Pharmacy.
My own pledge is to take antibiotics as they’re prescribed, promote antibiotic awareness via my blog, and encourage as many people as I can to make a pledge. During Antibiotic Awareness Week 2015 I conducted a poll on this page, and everyone completing it was going to make a pledge or had made theirs already (77% and 23% respectively).
Check your knowledge in this quiz on the Public Health England website
Visit the e-Bug Virtual Science Show to read fun facts on antibiotics and play games such as Microbe Mania, Horrible Hands, How Clean is Your Kitchen? and Giant Sneezes.
Infectious Futures: Stories of the post-antibiotic apocalypse , is a collection of six short stories by sci-fi authors, commissioned to bring the scale and urgency of the challenge of antimicrobial resistance vividly to life.
This is a great TEDtalk (subtitled and only 17 minutes long) which explains really well in accessible, non-scientific language, why antibiotic resistance is such an urgent problem.