The HSE has recently launched a three week awareness campaign Get better without antibiotics to highlight the importance of using antibiotics properly. Ireland is one of only three EU countries showing an increasing use of antibiotics. Recent Irish research shows that medical card holders (30% of the population) account for over 50% of antibiotic use. Antibiotics are not the solution for common colds, coughs or flu; they are effective only against bacterial infections.
Dr. Robert Cunney, Consultant Microbiologist at the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC), says “Taking antibiotics when they aren’t needed may mean that they won’t work when you really need them for a serious infection. The more antibiotics we use, the more bacteria (germs) can change so that the antibiotics don’t work any more. These bacteria are said to be “antibiotic resistant” and are much harder to treat and can spread to other people. We are using more and more antibiotics each year in Ireland and are seeing more infections caused by antibiotic resistant bacteria as a result. We must take steps to reduce inappropriate antibiotic use. Otherwise we risk squandering one of the most important medical advances of the past 100 years.”
Key things to remember:
- Most common infections don’t need antibiotics.
- Antibiotics are only effective against bacterial infections – they cannot help against common colds, coughs or flu.
- Taking antibiotics when they are not needed puts your health and your family’s health at risk.
- If your doctor decides that you need an antibiotic make sure you take it exactly as prescribed
- Misuse of antibiotics only causes bacteria to become resistant to antibiotic treatments and when antibiotics are needed in the future they may not work.
- Antibiotics often give side effects such as diarrhoea, nausea and skin rashes.
- Always seek a doctor’s advice before taking antibiotics.
Further information can be found on the HSE website.
It was the radio advertisement for this awareness campaign that caught my attention. I’d be interested to hear your comments on it.