Antibiotic Awareness Week

You may have seen me bleating on twitter about Antibiotic Awareness Week.

It’s not just an Australian thing – see the info page from NPS Medicinewise here – but it’s a campaign also run by CDC and groups in Europe.

Why is it so important (other than because I’m an infection doctor?)

For some well referenced articles aimed at a lay audience, see here on The Conversation

So what can the general public do about it?

First up, read the NPS Medicinewise pages (antibiotic resistance, colds and flu)

The second thing is to be aware of the issue, and to check with your doctor about the need for antibiotics. Many patients feel uncomfortable about questioning their doctors, but there are a couple of reasons why you should think about it.

First up, we know that patient empowerment works for handwashing, so there is no reason it shouldn’t be effective for antibiotic prescription, too.

Around 80% of total antibiotic prescription is in general practice. We know that many patients – around half – expect a prescription when they present to their doctor, and around three-quarters actually receive them. Doctors prescribing practice is influenced by these expectations.

So…

Disclaimer:  this is a general advice blog and isn’t a substitute for chatting with your doctor.

Some hot tips:

  • If your child has a cold and conjunctivitis – it’s almost certainly a virus and doesn’t need antibiotics
  • If you have a cold and a really sore throat, it’s very likely a virus and even if it’s not, you’ll almost certainly get better without antibiotics
  • Bronchitis (the most common “chest infection” if you don’t have chronic lung disease) is usually viral and antibiotics don’t significantly shorten duration of symptoms.
  • If you’re in hospital and have a drip in, ask if there is a reason you can’t take tablet antibiotics – if you can swallow food, you can swallow tablets is a good rule-of-thumb for most infections.

Antibiotic resistance is caused by antibiotic use.  It’s essential that doctors and patients work together to make sure that we delay the inevitable for as long as possible.

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