Health and Fitness, Park Forest

Antibiotics – You Don’t Always Need Them

SPRINGFIELD –(ENEWSPF)—November 13, 2017

By: Rosemary Piser

(Source: Harvard Health)

2017 U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week I November 13-19. During this week, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) will be raising awareness about the proper use of antibiotics and the dangers of antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Contrary to what many believe, antibiotics do NOT cure viral infections such as colds, flu, most sore throats, most coughs and bronchitis, many sinus and ear infections.

According to IDPH Director Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D., “Antibiotics are crucial in treating many diseases.  However, when antibiotics are used incorrectly or unnecessarily, which happens more than 50 percent of the time according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), bacteria become resistant to antibiotics. As bacteria become more resistant to antibiotics, those bacterial illnesses will be more difficult to treat or untreatable.”

Latest CDC data shows that in the United States, at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. Of this group, at least 23,000 people died.

This November, Illinois will expand its focus to dentists, who comprise the fourth-highest antibiotic prescribing group in the United States.  In addition to distributing antibiotic prescribing guidelines and patient education materials, IDPH will conduct a survey of Illinois dentists to learn what they are doing to improve their antibiotic prescribing practices and what challenges they face in doing so.

You can help prevent antibiotic resistance by:

  • Not asking for antibiotics when your health care provider thinks you do not need them. Antibiotics don’t cure all diseases. They also have side effects, and may do more harm than good.
  • Not sharing or use leftover antibiotics; only take antibiotics prescribed for you.
  • Not saving antibiotics for future illnesses. Talk to your pharmacist about safely discarding leftover medicines.
  • Asking your health care provider if there are other steps you can take to feel better without using an antibiotic.  Sometimes the best treatment may be relieving your symptoms.
  • Taking antibiotics exactly as your health care provider prescribes.  Do not skip doses or stop taking the course of antibiotics prescribed to you, even if you start to feel better.
  • Staying up to date on your recommended vaccines.  Vaccines help prevent infections and keep diseases from spreading.
  • Washing your hands regularly.  Cleaning your hands helps stop the spread of disease and protect yourself from illness.

It can be difficult to tell the difference between a common cold and a bacterial infection.  Always check with a health care professional if:

  • Symptoms last more than 10 days without improvement
  • Symptoms are severe or unusual
  • A child younger than three month has a fever

Join the antibiotic resistance conversation all week by following @CDCgov and @IPDH for more updates and to #BeAntibioticsAware