Get well without antibiotics this winter
With bugs and infections on the rise, Southwark patients should bear in mind that antibiotics may not always be the answer this winter. That's because they do not work on viruses, which are the most common cause of coughs, colds, tummy bugs and ear infections.
Over-use of antibiotics makes them less effective in the future so they will only be prescribed when you really need them, for example for a kidney infection or pneumonia. You should not expect a GP to prescribe them for coughs, colds, or other short term winter illnesses.
Harmful bacteria become resistant
Dr Aparna Babu, a GP in Southwark and clinical lead for antibiotics at NHS Southwark CCG said: "Taking antibiotics when you don't need them puts you and your family at risk of more severe or longer illness.
"Antibiotics help ward off infections during chemotherapy, caesarean sections and other surgery. They also treat serious bacterial infections, such as pneumonia, meningitis and sepsis. When they are taken for everyday viral infections, such as colds or flu, they do not kill the virus but they do encourage harmful bacteria to become resistant. That means that antibiotics may not work when you really need them."
To help keep antibiotics working, patients are urged to always take a doctor or nurse's advice on antibiotics. It is estimated that at least 5,000 deaths are caused every year in England because antibiotics no longer work for some infections and this figure is set to rise, with experts predicting that in just over 30 years antibiotic resistance will kill more people than cancer and diabetes combined.
Self-care best for common winter illnesses
If you have a cold or cough, it can be better treated by drinking plenty of fluids and resting. You can also ask a pharmacist for advice. However you should contact a GP if it lasts more than three weeks, if you become breathless, have chest pains or a pre-existing chest complaint.
If you do receive antibiotics, you should finish the course and never share them with anybody else.
We would also strongly encourage those at risk to have their annual flu jab. At risk groups include those aged 65 years or over, pregnant or with certain medical conditions.
Become an Antibiotic Guardian
To find out more and to take the pledge to become an antibiotic guardian, visit Antibiotic Guardian.