Antibiotics are essential for treating serious bacterial infections, but they are frequently being used to treat illnesses such as coughs, earache and sore throats – which can get better by themselves through self-care
Taking antibiotics encourages harmful bacteria that live inside you to become resistant. That means that antibiotics may not work when you really need them.
To keep antibiotics working, always take your doctor, nurse or healthcare professional’s advice – they will always recommend the best course of action if you’re unwell.
Dr Aparna Babu, GP and clinical lead for antibiotics at NHS Southwark CCG said:
“Antibiotics are essential to treat serious bacterial infections like meningitis, pneumonia and sepsis. They also help protect against infections during chemotherapy, caesarean sections and other surgery.
“If you take antibiotics when you don’t really need them, it increases the likelihood of them not working the next time you get an infection – making it much harder to treat.
“We all need antibiotics to keep working, so keep yourself and others healthy by washing your hands regularly, talking to your local pharmacist first when you are unwell and only take antibiotics when advised it’s absolutely necessary to do so.”
One in three people in England take at least one course of antibiotics each year, and Public Health England estimates that at least 20% of prescriptions for antibiotics are inappropriate.
New data shows that over three million surgeries and cancer treatments may become life threatening without antibiotics and it’s predicted that in just 30 years, antibiotic resistance will kill more people worldwide than cancer and diabetes combined.
Consequently, both the NHS and health organisations across the world are trying to reduce the use of antibiotics, especially for conditions that aren’t serious.
Find out more about antibiotic resistance
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