An estimated 700,000 people around the world die each year from drug-resistant strains of common bacterial infections. That figure includes 200,000 newborns who die from infections that don’t respond to antibiotic treatment. If these figures are scary, then learning the commandments of anti-biotics usage should be considered a life skill.
Every time a person takes antibiotics, sensitive bacteria are killed, but resistant ones may be left to grow and multiply. One out of five visits to emergency departments globally for adverse drug events is caused by complications from antibiotic use, especially among children under 18 years of age. Antibiotic resistance in children is of particular concern because they have the highest rates of antibiotic use and often have fewer antibiotic choices since some antibiotics cannot be safely given to children.
Health professionals have warned countless times that taking the wrong medicine may delay correct treatment, allow bacteria to multiply, and cause unwanted or severe side effects.
Here are some steps you can take to use antibiotics appropriately so you can get the best treatment when you’re sick, protect yourself from harm caused by unnecessary antibiotic use, and combat antibiotic resistance.
Antibiotics ONLY treat certain infections caused by bacteria, such as:
- Strep throat
- Whooping cough
- Urinary tract infection (UTI)
Antibiotics DO NOT work on viruses, such as those that cause:
- Colds and runny noses, even if the mucus is thick, yellow, or green
- Most sore throats (except strep throat)
- Most cases of chest colds (bronchitis)
Antibiotics also ARE NOT needed for some common bacterial infections, including:
- Many sinus infections
- Some ear infections
Taking antibiotics when they’re not needed won’t help you, and their side effects can still cause harm. Your doctor can decide the best treatment for you when you’re sick. Never pressure your doctor to prescribe an antibiotic.
Take antibiotics exactly as prescribed if you need them.
Dispose of unused Medicines:
- If your doctor decides an antibiotic is the best treatment when you’re sick:
- Take them exactly as your doctor tells you.
- Do not share your antibiotics with others.
- Do not save them for later. Talk to your pharmacist about safely discarding leftover medicines.
- Do not take antibiotics prescribed for someone else. This may delay the best treatment for you, make you even sicker, or cause side effects.
Talk with your doctor and pharmacist if you have any questions about your antibiotics.
Antibiotics aren’t always the answer when you’re sick. Sometimes, the best treatment when you’re sick may be over-the-counter medication. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for tips on how to feel better while your body fights off infection.
Knowing how to use antibiotics safely and appropriately empowers everyone to be a part of the solution to preserve the life-saving power of antibiotics.
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