|February 28, 2013
CDC warns about the dangers of antibiotic resistance
ATLANTA — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to urge caution when using antibiotics because misuse or overuse can lead to resistance.
According to the CDC, antibiotic resistance — when antibiotics can no longer cure bacterial infections — has been a concern for years and is considered one of the world’s most critical public health threats.
Antibiotics are the most important tool health care providers have to combat life-threatening bacterial disease; however, using antibiotics can also result in side effects, including development of new drug-resistant germs and increased risks to patients.
The CDC recommends that patients, health care providers, hospital administrators and policy makers work together to employ safe and effective strategies for improving antibiotic use — ultimately saving lives.
Viruses — not bacteria — cause colds and many other upper respiratory infections, as well as some ear infections. Consequently bacteria fighting antibiotics are not effective in combatting the viral maladies. However, many people choose that mode of treatment and that is of concern to the CDC as well as the World Health Organization.
If antibiotics are used too often for things they can’t treat — like colds or other viral infections — they can stop working effectively against bacteria when people really need them. Widespread overuse and inappropriate use of antibiotics continues to fuel an increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
In recent years, the CDC public education efforts have resulted in fewer children receiving unnecessary antibiotics but inappropriate use remains a problem.
Antibiotic resistance is also an economic burden on the entire health care system. Resistant infections cost more to treat and can prolong health care use.
Taking antibiotics when a person has a virus may do more harm than good. When it comes to children, antibiotics are the most common cause of emergency department visits for adverse drug events. Rest, fluids, and over-the-counter products may be people of all ages’ best treatment option.
Taking antibiotics for a child’s viral infections, such as a cold, most sore throats, acute bronchitis and many sinus or ear infections: will not cure the infection; will not keep other people from getting sick; will not help infected people feel better; and may cause unnecessary and harmful side effects.
People should not: demand antibiotics when their doctor says they are not needed; take an antibiotic for a viral infection like a cold or most sore throats; take antibiotics prescribed for someone else.
The antibiotic may not be right for your or your child’s illness. Taking the wrong medicine may delay correct treatment and allow bacteria to increase.
If a doctor prescribes an antibiotic for bacterial infection people should not: skip doses or save any of the antibiotics for future uses.
However just because a doctor doesn’t give a patient an antibiotic doesn’t mean the patient isn’t sick.
People should consult with their doctors about the best treatment for their or their children’s illness.
To feel better when people have an upper respiratory infection, they should: ask their doctor or pharmacist about over-the-counter treatment options that may help reduce symptoms; increase fluid intake; get plenty of rest; use a cool-mist vaporizer or saline nasal spray to relieve congestion; and, soothe a throat with ice chips, sore throat spray, or lozenges. It is recommended to not give lozenges to young children.
For more information, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, at: www.cdc.gov