/ by Katie Wallace, PharmD, BCPS-AQ ID
Did you know that there is a week dedicated each year to raising antibiotic awareness? U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week is this week from November 18-24, 2019, with the goal of educating patients and healthcare providers about appropriate antibiotic prescribing in order to combat antibiotic resistance. To be successful, we all need to look for opportunities to be antibiotic stewards year-round.
One of the main ways that you can help is by knowing the facts about antibiotics. Here is some important information about antibiotics that you can share with friends and family:
- Antibiotics save lives. When a patient needs antibiotics, the benefits outweigh the risks of side effects and antibiotic resistance.
- Antibiotics aren’t always the answer. Everyone can help improve antibiotic prescribing and use. Improving the way healthcare professionals prescribe antibiotics and the way we take antibiotics helps keep us healthy now, helps fight antibiotic resistance and ensures that these lifesaving antibiotics will be available for future generations.
- Antibiotics do not work on viruses, such as those that cause colds, flu, bronchitis or runny noses, even if the mucus is thick, yellow or green.
- Antibiotics are only needed for treating infections caused by bacteria, but even some bacterial infections get better without antibiotics. Antibiotics aren’t needed for many sinus infections and some ear infections.
- An antibiotic will not make you feel better if you have a virus. Respiratory viruses usually go away in a week or two without treatment. Ask your healthcare professional about the best way to feel better while your body fights off the virus.
- When antibiotics aren’t needed, they won’t help you, and the side effects could still cause harm. Side effects range from minor to very severe health problems. When you need antibiotics for a bacterial infection, then the benefits usually outweigh the risk of side effects.
- Taking antibiotics can lead to antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria develop the ability to defeat the drugs designed to kill them.
- If you need antibiotics, take them exactly as prescribed. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions about your antibiotics.
- Talk with your doctor if you develop any side effects, especially severe diarrhea, since that could be a Clostridioides difficile (C. difficile or C. diff) infection, which needs to be treated.
- Do your best to stay healthy and keep others healthy by cleaning hands, covering coughs, staying home when sick, and getting recommended vaccines, such as the flu vaccine.
For more information, watch the following video or follow the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s year round initiative, Be Antibiotics Aware: Smart Use, Best Care at https://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/index.html
About the UK HealthCare Antimicrobial Stewardship Program
The mission of UK HealthCare’s Antimicrobial Stewardship Program is optimizing antimicrobial use to improve clinical outcomes and decrease the spread of resistance. They will be educating providers and patients all week during Antibiotic Awareness Week outside the cafeteria on the first floor of Pavilion A of UK Albert B. Chandler Hospital.