Blogs Details

Handle Antibiotics with Care

Public Health
25-Nov-2017
Blogs Detailed

Since their discovery in the 1920s, antibiotics have transformed our ability to treat infections. 

As antibiotic resistance increases, these lifesaving drugs do not work as well as they once did, and successfully treating common infections becomes more difficult.

Antibiotic resistance is a serious global threat: every year, at least 700,000 people around the world die from infections with superbugs that are resistant to antibiotics – and this is predicted to rise to 10 million by 2050.

This year’s World Antibiotic Awareness Week (13-19 November 2017), ran by the World Health Organization(WHO), had the theme “Seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional before taking antibiotics” – The theme is reflecting the message that antibiotics are precious and non-renewable medicines that should be used only when necessary, only for treating bacterial infections and only after prescription by a certified health professional.

 

What everyone should know:

If You Have a Cold or Flu, Antibiotics Won’t Work for You

Are you aware that colds, flu, most sore throats, bronchitis, and many sinus and ear infections are caused by viruses? Did you know that antibiotics do not help fight viruses? It’s true. For the overwhelming majority of common respiratory infections, antibiotics are not helpful.

Antibiotics cure bacterial infections, not viral infections such as:

·         Colds or flu

·         Most coughs and bronchitis

·         Most sore throats

·         Runny noses

Taking antibiotics for viral infections will not:

·         Cure the infection

·         Keep other individuals from catching the illness

·         Help you feel better

Antibiotics Can Cause More Harm than Good

Taking antibiotics when you have a virus may do more harm than good:

·         Taking antibiotics increases your risk of getting an antibiotic-resistant infection later.

·         Antibiotics kill the healthy bacteria in the gut, allowing more harmful bacteria, such as C. difficile, to grow in its place.

·         Although this infection is more commonly found in hospitals, it also occurs in clinics outside of the hospital. 

·         According to the data generated by CDC, Antibiotics cause 1 out of 5 emergency department visits for adverse drug events.

·     Antibiotics are the most common cause of emergency department visits for adverse drug events in children under 18 years of age.

It’s important to only take antibiotics for bacterial infections since they can put you or your child at risk for harmful side effects and antibiotic-resistant infections.

When you use antibiotics appropriately, you do the best for your health, your family’s health, and the health of those around you.

 

Here are tips on how to use antibiotics wisely.

 

What you should Do

·         Ask your healthcare professional about what you can do stop or slow antibiotic resistance.

o    Let them know you are concerned about this issue.

·         Ask your healthcare professional if there are steps you can take to feel better and get relief from your symptoms without using antibiotics.

o    Sometimes the best treatment for your illness may be relieving your symptoms, not an antibiotic.

·         Take the prescribed antibiotic exactly as your healthcare professional tells you.

o    If taken improperly, antibiotics are more likely to cause harm.

·         Ask your healthcare professional about vaccines recommended for you and your family.

o    Vaccines are an effective way to prevent infections that may require an antibiotic.

o    Vaccines are also an important way to keep diseases from spreading.

What you should Not Do

·         Never take an antibiotic for a viral infection like a cold or the flu. Antibiotics do NOT cure viral infections such as:

o    Colds

o    Flu

o    Most sore throats

o    Most coughs and bronchitis (“chest colds”)

o    Many sinus infections

o    Many ear infections

·         Never pressure your healthcare professional to prescribe an antibiotic.

·         Never skip doses.

·         Never save antibiotics for the next time you become sick and do not take antibiotics prescribed for someone else.

o    Taking the wrong medicine may delay correct treatment, allow bacteria to multiply, and cause unwanted or severe side effects. Discard any leftover medication.

 

Read the Chart below to know which common illnesses are usually viral or bacterial and when antibiotics are necessary.

Common Condition: What’s got you sick?

Common Cause
Bacteria

Common Cause 
   Bacteria or Virus

Common
Cause  Virus

Are antibiotics needed?

Strep throat

   

Yes

Whooping cough

   

Yes

 Urinary tract infection

 ✔

   

Yes

Sinus infection

 

 ✔

 

Maybe

Middle ear infection

 

 ✔

 

Maybe

Bronchitis/chest cold (in otherwise healthy children and adults)*

 

 ✔

 

No

 Common cold/runny nose

   

 ✔

No

 Sore throat (except strep)

   

 ✔

No

 Flu

   

 ✔

No

* Studies show that in otherwise healthy children and adults, antibiotics for bronchitis won’t help you feel better.

 

 

 

SYMPTOM RELIEF

 

While antibiotics cannot treat infections caused by viruses, there are still a number of things you or your child can do to relieve some symptoms and feel better while a viral illness runs its course. Over-the-counter medicines may also help relieve some symptoms.

How to Feel Better

General Advice

For upper respiratory infections, such as sore throats, ear infections, sinus infections, colds, and bronchitis, try the following:

·         Get plenty of rest

·         Drink plenty of fluids

·         Use a clean humidifier or cool mist vaporizer

·         Avoid smoking, secondhand smoke, and other pollutants (airborne chemicals or irritants)

·         Take acetaminophen or naproxen to relieve pain or fever (for more information on the safe dose of drugs, please contact your healthcare provider or the hospital drug information centre for free service)

·         Use saline nasal spray or drops

 

Sore Throat

Try the following tips if you or your child has a sore throat:

·         Soothe a sore throat with ice chips, sore throat spray, popsicles, or lozenges (do not give lozenges to young children)

·         Use a clean humidifier or cool mist vaporizer

·         Gargle with salt water

·         Drink warm beverages

·         Take acetaminophen or naproxen to relieve pain or fever (for more information on the safe dose of drugs, please contact your healthcare provider or the hospital drug information centre for free service)

 

Ear Pain

The following tips can be used to help ease the pain from earaches:

·         Put a warm moist cloth over the ear that hurts

·         Take acetaminophen or naproxen to relieve pain or fever (for more information on the safe dose of drugs, please contact your healthcare provider or the hospital drug information centre for free service)

 

Runny Nose

Stop a runny nose in its tracks by trying the following tips:

·         Get plenty of rest

·         Increase fluid intake

·         Use a decongestant or saline nasal spray to help relieve nasal symptoms (for more information on the safe dose of drugs, please contact your healthcare provider or the hospital drug information centre for free service)

Sinus Pain/Pressure

Try the following tips to help with sinus pain and pressure:

·         Put a warm compress over the nose and forehead to help relieve sinus pressure

·         Use a decongestant or saline nasal spray

·         Breathe in steam from a bowl of hot water or shower

·         Take acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen to relieve pain or fever (for more information on the safe dose of drugs, please contact your healthcare provider or the hospital drug information centre for free service)

Cough

The following tips can be used to help with coughing:

·         Use a clean humidifier or cool mist vaporizer

·         Breathe in steam from a bowl of hot water or shower

·         Use non-medicated lozenges (do not give lozenges to young children)

·         Use honey if your child is at least 1 year old  (for more information on the safe dose of drugs, please contact your healthcare provider or the hospital drug information centre for free service)

 

Over-the-Counter Medicines

For children and adults, over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers, decongestants and saline nasal sprays may help relieve some symptoms, such as a runny nose, congestion, fever, and aches, but they do not shorten the length of time you or your child is sick. Remember to always use OTC products as directed. Not all products are recommended for children of certain ages.

·         For more information on safe use of your medications, please contact the hospital drug information centre for free service)

 

Pain Relievers for Children

For babies 6 months of age or younger, parents should only give acetaminophen for pain relief. For a child 6 months of age or older, either acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be given for pain relief. Be sure to ask your child’s healthcare professional for the right dosage for your child’s age and size. Do not give aspirin to your child because of Reye’s syndrome, a rare but very serious illness that harms the liver and brain.

Cough and Cold Medicines for Children Younger than 4 Years of Age

Do not use cough and cold products in children younger than 4 years of age unless specifically told to do so by a healthcare professional. Overuse and misuse of OTC cough and cold medicines in young children can result in serious and potentially life-threatening side effects. Instead, parents can clear nasal congestion (snot) in infants with a rubber suction bulb. A stuffed nose can also be relieved with saline nose drops or a clean humidifier or cool-mist vaporizer.

Cough and Cold Medicines for Children Older than 4 Years of Age

OTC cough and cold medicines may give your child some temporary relief of symptoms even though they will not cure your child’s illness. Parents should talk with their child’s healthcare professional if they have any concerns or questions about giving their child an OTC medication. Parents should always tell their child’s healthcare professional about all prescription and OTC medicines they are giving their child.

 

Tips for Parents and Caregivers

1.      Do not give children medications labelled only for adults.

2.      Talk to your healthcare professional, such as your doctor or pharmacist, if you have any questions about using cough or cold medicines in children.

3.      Choose OTC cough and cold medicines with child-resistant safety caps, when available. After each use, make sure to close the cap tightly and store the medicines out of the sight and reach of children.

4.      Check the "active ingredients" section of the "patient information leaflet” in each package of the medicines that you choose. This section will help you understand what symptoms the active ingredients in the medicine are intended to treat. Cough and cold medicines often have more than one active ingredient, such as an antihistamine, a decongestant, a cough suppressant, an expectorant, or a pain reliever and fever reducer.

5.      Be very careful if you are giving more than one medicine to a child. Make sure the medicines do not have the same type of active ingredients. For example, do not give a child more than one medicine that has a decongestant. If you use two medicines that have the same or similar active ingredients, your child could be harmed by getting too much of an ingredient.

6.      Carefully follow the directions for how to use the medicine in the "Drug Facts" part of the label. These directions tell you how much medicine to give and how often you can give it. If you have a question about how to use the medicine, ask your pharmacist or other healthcare professional. Overuse or misuse of these products can lead to serious and potentially life-threatening side effects, such as rapid heartbeat, drowsiness, breathing problems, and seizures.

7.      Only use measuring devices that come with the medicine or those specially made for measuring drugs. Do not use household spoons to measure medicines for children because household spoons come in different sizes and are not meant for measuring medicines.

8.      Understand that using OTC cough and cold medicines does not cure a cold or cough. These medicines only treat your child's symptoms, such as a runny nose, congestion, fever, and aches. They do not shorten the length of time your child is sick.

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