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Want to know how to treat a cold, cough or sore throat? Click here for information on a range of minor ailments.

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 the 'Self Care' page for more information, and downloadable leaflets, on how you can look after yourself and save a trip to see your Doctor.

European Antibiotic Awareness Day (EAAD)

Every year, European Antibiotic Awareness Day is held on November 18. It's a Europe-wide public health initiative that encourages responsible use of antibiotics.

Public Health England (PHE) is responsible for co-ordinating EAAD activities in England. PHE is working towards the One Health initiative with the Department of Health’s Expert Advisory Committee on Antimicrobial Resistance and Healthcare Associated Infections (ARHAI), the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), devolved administrations and other professional bodies/organisations.

One Health recognises that the health of people, animals and the environment are closely linked. It brings together multiple disciplines that aim to provide good health for all. For more detailed information visit the One Health website.

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