Take Care, Not Antibiotics!

What is the problem?

Antibiotics are important medicines used to treat infections caused by bacteria but bacteria can adapt and survive the effects of an antiobiotic. They become 'antibiotic resistant' which means that the antibiotic no longer works. The more often we use an antibiotic, the more likely it is that bacteria will become resistant to it. Some bacteria that cause infections in hospitals, such as MRSA, are resistant to several antibiotics.

 What is causing this problem?

Antibiotic resistance is one of the most significant threats to patients' safety in Europe. It is driven by overusing antibiotics and prescribing them inappropriately. To slow down the development of antibiotic resistance it is important to use antibiotics in the right way, to use the right drug, at the right dose, at the right time for the right duration. Antibiotics should be taken as prescribed, never saved for later or shared with others.

Inappropriate use includes:

  • not taking your antibiotics as prescribed
  • skipping doses of antibiotics
  • not taking antibiotics at regular intervals
  • saving some for later

Inappropriate prescribing includes:

  • unnecessary prescription of antibiotics
  • unsuitable use of broad-spectrum antibiotics
  • wrong selection of antibiotics and inappropriate duration or dose of antibiotics

What Can I Do About Antibiotic Resistance?

You can use antibiotics only when it is appropriate to do so. When they are prescribed for you, you should take the complete course in order to get rid of the bacteria completely. Even if you think your infection has gone, you should not stop taking your antibiotic as some bacteria may still be 'alive' and they may develop resistance.

Why Can't Antibiotics Treat My Cold, Cough or Sore Throat?

Most colds, coughs and sore throats are caused by viruses and generally these will get better on their own as our bodies fight the infection.

Antibiotics do not work against infections caused by viruses - they are only effective against bacterial infections, but are becoming less so!

Take a look at our Self-Help and Wellbeing section for more information on how you can look after yourself and save a trip to your doctor.