The ability of antibiotics to treat infection is threatened by their overuse.
The ‘Big Fight’
Riverside Surgery has joined the ‘Big Fight’, a local initiative to promote responsible antibiotic prescribing. The ‘Big Fight’ is the Health Board response to the UK wide campaign to reduce the use of antibiotics.
Sore throat, runny nose and cough are usually caused by viruses that do not respond to antibiotic therapy. Viral illness can make you feel very unwell but, in most cases your own immune system will make a good job of clearing the infection.
The inappropriate use of antibiotics to treat viral infections is one reason for the emergence of bacteria resistant to commonly used antibiotics.
MRSA (Methycillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) the so called hospital ‘super bug’ is a good example of how bacteria can develop resistance. MRSA is the cause of a significant number of hospital acquired infections and is difficult to treat.
We all have a responsibility to prevent the emergence of resistant bacteria through responsible use of antibiotics.
The number of prescriptions issued for antibiotics is higher in Wales than the rest of the United Kingdom and the number of prescriptions issued in Port Talbot is one of the highest in Wales.
The ‘Big Fight’ is a local campaign to
promote responsible antibiotic prescribing.
When should I worry
A significant reason for antibiotic prescribing is concern about ‘sepsis‘. Sepsis is a life threatening infection caused by bacteria and urgent treatment with antibiotics is life saving. So, when there are public health initiatives promoting awareness of sepsis and the importance of early antibiotic therapy at the same time that antibiotic use is being discouraged, it can be difficult to workout when to seek medical advice and request antibiotics.
What are the signs that you should seek medical help for an infection? The following is listed in order of urgency with the most urgent symptoms listed first:
- if you develop a severe headache or are sick
- if your skin is very cold or has a strange colour, or you develop an unusual rash
- if you feel confused or have slurred speech or are very drowsy
- if you have difficulty breathing. Signs that suggest breathing problems can include,
- a) breathing quickly
- b) turning blue around the lips and the skin below the mouth
- c) skin between or above the ribs getting sucked or pulled in with every breath
- if you develop chest pain
- if you have difficulty swallowing or are drooling
- if you cough up blood
- if hearing problems develop
- or if there is fluid coming out of your ears
If you suspect bacterial infection it is important to seek medical advice.
However, sore throat, runny nose and cough symptoms are usually caused by viral infections and a number of resources are available to promote self help treatment without antibiotics.
Public Health England have published helpful information about surviving the cold and flu season without the need to take antibiotics. The advice is available on the Health Board website:
Cardiff University researchers have produced a leaflet ‘When should I worry.‘ The leaflet is intended to be used in conjunction with your doctor to help identify when children may require antibiotic therapy.
This leaflet is for parents (and older children) and deals with common infections in children who are normally healthy. It is not meant for children who have ongoing health problems such as asthma, heart, or kidney problems. You should not rely on the advice in this leaflet for children who are less than 3 months old. Babies younger than this can respond differently to infections.
Our local expert ‘Auntie Biotic’
The Health Board have enlisted the help of ‘Auntie Biotic’ to produce an amusing educational video explaining the serious message about how and when antibiotics should be used. Please take time to view the video to learn more about antibiotics and join the ‘Big Fight‘ to promote responsible antibiotic prescribing.
Click on the image below to learn more about responsible antibiotic prescribing from our local expert Auntie Biotic
- Coughs, colds and sore throat are commonly caused by viruses – antibiotics do not kill viruses.
- Use of antibiotics to treat viral infections cause the emergence of bacteria resistant to commonly used antibiotics.
- Antibiotics commonly cause side-effects such as vomiting and diarrhoea and occasionally cause more serious side-effects.
- Your pharmacist can recommend medication to help ease your symptoms for minor ailments.
- Don’t always expect a prescription for an antibiotic, your doctor will advise you when an antibiotic is appropriate.