Antibiotics only treat bacterial infections and do not work on viral infections such as colds and flu, most coughs, sore throats, earache and cases of sinusitis. Viral infections can be treated with a combination of self-care and over the counter medicines and patients should ask their community pharmacist’s advice on treating their symptoms.
Taking antibiotics when you don’t need them might make you feel worse as you may experience side effects such as an upset tummy.
This latest reminder coincides with World Antibiotic Awareness Week which runs from 18 – 24 November. Although antibiotics are a powerful tool to fight certain bacterial infections, over-prescribing and inappropriate use can lead to ‘superbugs’ – strains of bacteria that become resistant to antibiotics. Worryingly, antibiotic resistant infections rose by 9% between 2017 and 2018, from 55,812 to 60,788. This means more deaths and more complications for people being treated in hospital. Without effective antibiotics many routine treatments will become increasingly dangerous. Setting broken bones, basic operations and even chemotherapy all rely on access to antibiotics that work. We all have to tackle this problem before it gets worse.