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European Antibiotic Awareness Day

European Antibiotic Awareness Day

Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is backing the European Antibiotic Awareness Day, on Monday 18th November, by urging residents to get well soon without using antibiotics.

The European Antibiotic Awareness Day, held every year on November 18, is a Europe-wide public health initiative which encourages responsible use of antibiotics.

The best way to treat most colds, coughs or sore throats is to drink plenty of fluids and to rest.    Antibiotics only work against infections that have been caused by bacteria so as all colds and most coughs and sore throats are caused by viruses, antibiotics won’t work.

Resistance to antibiotics is becoming a worrying issue for health professionals not just in Blackburn and Darwen but nationally.  The number of infections due to antibiotic-resistant bacteria is growing globally and is related to the over-use of antibiotics.

Dr Pervez Muzaffar, GP prescribing lead at Blackburn with Darwen CCG, said: “Antibiotics are a crucial part of our armoury against bacterial infections.  Many people ask for antibiotics to treat illnesses such as colds and flu, however colds and flu are viruses which will not respond to antibiotic treatment.

“Of course, prevention is better than cure, so appropriate immunisation, good hygiene and first aid of skin wounds are important too.  We need to use antibiotics carefully because, like any medicine, they can cause serious side-effects if used incorrectly and their over-use leads to bacterial resistance which makes them less and less effective when they are really needed.”

The more often an antibiotic is used, the more likely it is that bacteria will become resistant so when antibiotics are needed in the future they may no longer work.

Growing antibiotic resistance threatens the effectiveness of antibiotics now and in the future.  Eventually, the bacteria will grow resistant to the current antibiotics, and as in recent years fewer new antibiotics have been discovered, it is impossible to determine if new antibiotics will be available to replace the old ones.

Dr Muzaffar continued: “Please don’t ask your doctor to prescribe antibiotics unnecessarily; they will only be prescribed when needed, such as a kidney infection or pneumonia.  Antibiotics may be life-saving for infections such as meningitis but by not using them unnecessarily, they are more likely to work when needed.

“There are many over the counter medicines to help ease symptoms of coughs and colds including paracetamol, but please ask a pharmacist for advice.  If the cold lasts more than three weeks, or you become breathless, have chest pains, or already have a chest complaint, then see your doctor.

“I would also urge anyone who is aged over 65, or who is pregnant, or has a serious medical condition including a chronic (long-term) respiratory disease (severe asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bronchitis), diabetes, chronic kidney or liver disease, or a weakened immune system that may have been caused by chemotherapy, to contact their GP practice to arrange for a flu vaccination, if they have not already done so.”

Further information can be found on the following website: www.nhs.uk/antibiotics