Most People Unaware About Antibiotics Use

Most People Unaware About Antibiotics UseMost People Unaware About Antibiotics Use

Many people still do not know which infections can be treated with antibiotics, and doctors may not be warning their patients about the hazards of taking the drugs too often, a UK study suggests.

Primary care doctors dispense most antibiotics, so they need to do a better job of educating patients about when antibiotics are really needed and the consequences of overusing the drugs, researchers say.

“The more you take antibiotics the more bacteria in your body will become resistant, so the next time you really need an antibiotic for pneumonia or a kidney infection, for example, it may not be as effective,” said lead author Cliodna McNulty, head of the Primary Care Unit at Public Health England in Gloucester.

In the UK, 74% of antibiotics are prescribed by general practice physicians, researchers said in the journal Family Practice. Many patients may request the drugs for viral infections, which are not treatable with antibiotics.

Antibiotics work on bacterial infections, but not on viruses. Antibiotic resistance occurs when the bacteria causing common infections evolve so that the drugs no longer work on them.

“Most coughs, colds, sore throats, flu and sinus infections are self-limiting and will get better on their own. Antibiotics only improve symptoms by about 8-12 hours,” McNulty told Reuters Health by email.

Antibiotic resistance is one of the greatest health threats worldwide and leads to longer hospitalizations, higher medical costs and death, according to the World Health Organization.