With the weather getting colder and illnesses circulating, members of the public may be tempted to use antibiotics in place of rest and over the counter remedies.
In support of World Antibiotic Awareness Week (13-19 November 2017) and European Antibiotic Awareness Day (17th November), NHS Milton Keynes Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is advising against the use of antibiotics for coughs, colds and flu and is joining the fight against antibiotic resistance.
There is a general misunderstanding that antibiotics can treat winter conditions. In fact, research has shown that only 10%* of sore throats and 20% of acute sinusitis benefit from antibiotic treatment but the prescription rates are much higher than this.
Antibiotics are important medicines used to treat infections caused by bacteria. Winter conditions, such as cold and flu, are generally caused by viruses and therefore cannot be treated by antibiotics.
The routine usage of antibiotics to treat viral infections has led to certain bacteria becoming resistant to the effects of antibiotics. This has a knock on effect when treating life-threatening conditions, such as MRSA which is currently resistant to several antibiotics.
Dr Nessan Carson, GP Board Member of NHS Milton Keynes CCG, said: “By only using antibiotics when it’s appropriate to do so, we can slow down resistance and make sure these life-saving medicines remain effective when we need them the most.
“We know that most coughs and colds get better just as quickly without antibiotics. So if you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms drink plenty of fluids, rest and if you need some pain relief take some paracetamol. Your local pharmacy can also advise you on treating particular symptoms.”
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