Activate Health by Reducing Unnecessary Antibiotic Use
Guest post by:
Project Manager, Community Antimicrobial Stewardship, BC Centre for Disease Control
Cold and flu season is upon us once again, and we are entering a second straight winter living with the COVID-19 pandemic. This time of year brings many respiratory illnesses, and there are many things you can do to protect yourself from getting sick.
If you do get sick this winter, you’ll likely be looking for ways to help treat your illness and get to feeling better quickly. But please remember, antibiotics do not work against illnesses caused by viruses like cold and flu. Rest and plenty of liquids are your best treatment options.
It’s important not to use antibiotics unnecessarily due to the threat of antibiotic resistance. When we take antibiotics, they kill the bacteria in our body causing us to be sick. But sometimes not all bacteria are killed, and these “resistant” bacteria can grow and multiply. Using antibiotics too much or incorrectly creates more opportunities for antibiotic-resistant bacteria to develop, making future bacterial infections harder to treat.
Antibiotics are vital to modern medicine, essential for surgeries, cancer treatment, organ transplantation and more. But it is estimated that by 2050, up to 40% of simple infections may be untreatable by antibiotics. That’s why the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared November 18th to 24th World Antimicrobial Awareness Week—to raise awareness of this important issue and help ensure that antibiotics continue to work now and into the future.
You may have noticed in recent years that your healthcare provider is prescribing antibiotics less often, for shorter duration, or asking you to wait a day or two before filling a prescription. All of these actions are important in reducing unnecessary antibiotic use and combatting drug-resistant infections.
But there are things you can do to help too—be open to talking with your doctor or nurse practitioner about whether an antibiotic is needed, properly dispose of antibiotics rather than holding on to them or sharing with others, and wash your hands often and take other precautions to avoid getting sick in the first place. These actions are how you can Activate Health.
To mark World Antimicrobial Awareness Week, Dr David Patrick, director of research and medical lead for antimicrobial resistance at the BC Centre for Disease Control and Dr Tracy Monk, family physician in Burnaby and medical lead for the Pathways system, will soon have an op-ed published in the Vancouver Province talking about the issue of antibiotic resistance and what you can do to help.
To learn more, visit Antibiotic Wise’s website or follow Antibiotic Wise on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Antibiotic Wise is an initiative of the BC Centre for Disease Control providing resources and information on antibiotics and antibiotic resistance across the province.
We all have a role to play to prevent misuse of antibiotics and protect our healthcare system. Keep that in mind this cold and flu season and remember that doing your part to stem the rising tide of antibiotic resistance is another way you can Activate Health this fall and winter.