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Antibiotic Awareness Week 2020: "Be Antibiotics Aware"

Antibiotic Awareness Week 2020

/ by UK HealthCare

Written by Lidia Caballero, UK College of Pharmacy PharmD Candidate 2023; Katie Landmesser, PGY2 Infectious Diseases Pharmacy Resident; and Sarah Cotner, PharmD, BCPS.

Imagine yourself on a battlefield surrounded by an enemy. Suddenly, as the enemy is approaching you, you remember you brought a weapon. You pull out a balloon sword! You quickly realize that you have chosen the wrong weapon and have been defeated on the battlefield. 

Our immune system goes to war for us every day. Antibiotics are one type of weapon we can use in our fight against the enemies that invade our bodies, but antibiotics are only effective against bacteria. 

In fact, inappropriate antibiotic prescribing and utilization is a problem that can lead to antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic resistance happens when bacteria learn how to defeat the drugs that have been designed to eliminate them.  

Avoiding taking antibiotics when they aren’t needed will ensure that they still work when they are required. 

Antibiotics are not always the answer. 

There are many types of illnesses that are caused by viral – not bacterial – infections. 

Antibiotics are not effective against viruses and will not help to make you feel better faster. For instance, many sinus infections and ear infections are caused by viruses and will get better on their own. 

When we take antibiotics, we expose the bacterial “enemies” to our most powerful weapon. They learn quickly how to overcome our tactics, and if we are invaded by bacteria in the future, the antibiotic may no longer be effective.  

What should you do when you feel sick? 

  • Contact your primary care provider. 
  • If you have been prescribed an antibiotic, take it the way it has been prescribed to you. 
  • Keep yourself and others around you healthy by washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol, covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, staying home when you are feeling under the weather, maintaining a social distance of 6 feet and avoiding crowded areas, and getting all recommended vaccines like the yearly flu vaccination. 

This week is Antibiotic Awareness Week, and the UK HealthCare Antimicrobial Stewardship Program is proud to support the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Be Antibiotics Aware” campaign. 

The CDC encourages patients and families to use the educational resources and learn more about Be Antibiotics Aware by visiting the CDC website.