Since the cold winter months are upon us and the cold and flu season is usually prevalent at this time, here are some facts about antibiotic usage and antibiotic resistance to keep in mind when trying to find cures for these ailments. Antibiotics cure bacterial infections, not viral infections such as colds or flu, coughs and bronchitis, sore throats not caused by strep, or runny noses.
Antibiotics, also known as antimicrobial drugs, are drugs that fight infections caused by bacteria. Alexander Fleming discovered the first antibiotic, penicillin, in 1927. Since that time antibiotics have transformed medical care and dramatically reduced illness and death from infectious diseases. Although antibiotics have many beneficial effects, their use has contributed to the problem of antibiotic resistance.
Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change in some way that reduces or eliminates the effectiveness of the drug designed to cure or prevent infections. These resistant bacteria survive and continue to multiply causing more harm. Antibiotic resistance has been called one of the world’s most pressing public health problems. Almost every type of bacteria has become stronger and less responsive to antibiotic treatment when it is really needed. These antibiotic-resistant bacteria can quickly spread to family members, schoolmates, and co-workers- threatening the community with a new strain of infectious disease that is more difficult to cure and more expensive to treat. Methicillin Resistant Staph Aureus, and Vancomycin Resistant Staphylococcus and Streptococcus are several examples of bacterial infections that are very difficult to treat because of antibiotic resistance that has developed to these organisms.
You can help prevent antibiotic-resistant infections by only using antibiotics when they are likely to be beneficial. Here are some useful tips to remember published by the CDC.
1. Talk to your healthcare provider about antibiotic resistance:
Ask whether and antibiotic is likely to be beneficial for your illness2. Do not take antibiotics for a viral infection like a cold or the flu.
Ask what else you can do to feel better sooner
3. Do not save some of your antibiotic for the next time you get sick. Complete your prescribed course of treatment and discard any leftover medication.
4. Take an antibiotic exactly as the healthcare provider tells you. Do not skip doses. Complete the prescribed course of treatment even if you are feeling better. If treatment stops too soon, some bacteria survive and re-infect.
5. Do not take antibiotics prescribed for someone else. The antibiotic may not be appropriate for your illness or age.
6. If your healthcare provider determines that you do not have a bacterial infection, ask about ways to help relieve symptoms. Do not pressure your provider to prescribe an antibiotic.
Our laboratory routinely calculates the antibiotic resistant/sensitivity patterns of bacterial grown on cultures submitted. This information is used by your pharmacy and providers to help determine appropriate antibiotics for your treatment.
Tue, January 4, 2011
by By Tami Stanger, and Pat Solum, Laboratory Services