Stop asking for antibiotics…
One in four of us still believe that antibiotics prevent colds from developing into more serious illnesses, or that they speed up recovery from colds. But it’s just not true…
And we are so wedded to the idea that an antibiotic is what we need, that we put pressure on our doctors to give in to us, and many of them do.
Which is turning into very bad news for those of us who are genuinely in need, because the increasing problem of antibiotic resistance is making bacterial infections such as pneumonia much more difficult to treat.
Bacteria are adapting and finding ways to survive the effects of antibiotics (for example, the E.coli bacteria has already become around 10% more resistant to antibiotics since the start of the decade).
GPs say they want to stop prescribing antibiotics, but their patients often insist and they give in to put their minds at rest.
So here’s what you need to know:
Bacteria are living organisms existing as single cells. Bacteria are everywhere, most don’t cause any harm, and in some cases may be beneficial. But some bacteria can cause illness by invading the human body, multiplying, and interfering with normal bodily processes. Antibiotics are effective against bacteria because they work to kill these living organisms by stopping their growth and reproduction.
Viruses, on the other hand, are not alive and cannot exist on their own. They are particles containing genetic material wrapped in a protein coat. Viruses “live”, grow, and reproduce only after they’ve invaded other living cells. Some viruses may be fought off by the body’s immune system before they cause illness, but others (colds, for example) must simply run their course. Viruses do not respond to antibiotics at all.
So think twice about asking or putting pressure on your doctor for an antibiotic the next time you have a bad cold or flu – if they think you need one for an infection, they will prescribe it!
You can get more information at www.hse.ie/antibiotics.