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Help keep antibiotics working effectively in the future

None of us like to be unwell and we expect doctors and nurses to prescribe something to make us better, but we need to ask ourselves ….are we using and relying on too many antibiotics?

Taking antibiotics when you don’t need them puts you and your family at risk of more severe or longer illness. NHS North East Lincolnshire CCG is supporting a national campaign by Public Health England urging people to only use antibiotics when they really need to and always take them as advised by a GP or nurse. This will help keep antibiotics working effectively and stop the increase of antibiotic resistance.

Antibiotics help ward off infections during chemotherapy, caesarean sections and other surgery, and they are essential to treat serious bacterial infections, such as meningitis, pneumonia and sepsis, but people sometimes ask for them where they are not needed to treat viral illnesses, such as coughs, colds and sore throats, that can get better by themselves.

Taking antibiotics encourages harmful bacteria that live inside you to become resistant. This means that if you take antibiotics when you don’t need them, the next time you get an infection it is more likely that antibiotics will not work, making it harder to treat. This is even more likely for children who have taken antibiotics.

It is estimated that at least 5,000 deaths are caused every year in England because antibiotics no longer work for some infections and this figure is set to rise with experts predicting that in just over 30 years antibiotic resistance will kill more people than cancer and diabetes combined.

Peter Melton, local GP and Clinical Chief Officer for the CCG, said, “We need people to understand the role of antibiotics better and what they are effective in treating and encourage them not to request them unnecessarily from their GP.

“Antibiotics will not help if you’re suffering with a viral infection such as a cold, a sore throat, or the flu, and they are being used wrongly and causing a worrying problem with resistance building up to antibiotics that means we are running the risk of antibiotics not working in life threatening infections in future when we need them.”

He added, “To help prevent antibiotic resistance, antibiotics should only be taken as prescribed by your GP or nurse, and please don’t save any for later or share antibiotics you have been prescribed with other family and friends.”

For viral infections that make us unwell there are other medicines and treatments available from either a GP or your local Pharmacist. More information about the symptoms and treatment of minor ailments and infections can be found on the NHS Choices website https://www.nhs.uk/pages/home.aspx

You can get more tips on using antibiotics wisely by visiting http://www.northeastlincolnshireccg.nhs.uk/healthy-living/antibiotics-awareness/.

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