Antibiotics have saved millions of lives, but their use is causing increasing concern.
Bromley GP, Dr Mandy Selby works as a GP at the Knoll Medical Practice in Orpington, serving over 8,500 patients. Up to a third of people who present in the surgery ask or mention antibiotics. Like many GPs, Mandy sees many patients who ask for antibiotics hoping it will speed up their recovery and help them feel better, and knows this is often not the best option for them.
“One of the main concerns is that we become resistant to antibiotics through overuse, and through patients not finishing the full course of antibiotics. Antibiotics can also produce side effects such as nausea, indigestion and diarrhoea. Unfortunately, some people mistakenly believe that antibiotics will help them get over a cough, cold or flu, which is not the case. The best way to protect people from flu is to have the flu jab, and they can find out more about this by visiting the Stay Well This Winter website.”
Instead of taking antibiotics for common illnesses, patients are advised to get plenty of rest and to take over the counter medicines to help treat viruses. Pharmacists can provide advice in the first instance without needing to see a GP. There are times when antibiotics are the right course of action, as Mandy says, “I recently diagnosed a child with a severe bacterial throat infection. I gave her Penicillin and she made a good recovery. If she had had antibiotics inappropriately in the past to treat viral infections, there would have been a possibility that the penicillin would not have worked due to resistance. That could have resulted in the patient being at risk of long term complications.”
Find out more about the Antibiotic Awareness Campaign here.