Using antibiotics responsibly this winter Image By-tashatuvango-AdobeStock_86136484.jpg

Viral infections such as colds and the flu cannot be treated with antibiotics

Bedfordshire and Luton Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) are highlighting the importance of using antibiotics responsibly. Antibiotics are used to treat, or prevent, some types of bacterial infection. They kill the bacteria or prevent them from spreading further.

Viral infections such as colds and the flu, which are common at this time of year, cannot be treated with antibiotics.

Fiona Garnett, head of Medicines Management at Bedfordshire CCG, said:

“In most cases, your body can fight mild bacterial infections without the need for antibiotics. The common cold and flu are both viral infections and should not be treated by a course of antibiotics.

“If you, or a member of your family, are feeling unwell this winter then please speak to your local community pharmacist or call NHS 111, the illness could be treated by over-the-counter medicine.”

Superbugs

Through misusing and overusing antibiotics, the bacteria that causes infections can become resistant causing what is commonly known as “Superbugs”. These are resistant to many types of antibiotics and are therefore very difficult to treat, potentially resulting in life-threatening complications.

Fiona Garnett added:

“Its vital antibiotics are only used in the right way and as prescribed by a health care professional. Everyone has a part to play in reducing the rate of antibiotic resistance seen in the UK and that starts with not expecting your GP to prescribe antibiotics for a viral infection.

“In fact, the number of cases of antibiotic resistant infections in the blood of patients in England rose by 25% between 2013 and 2017, a further increase could be detrimental to the future treatment of bacterial infections.”

If you are prescribed antibiotics by a healthcare professional please follow the below instructions to help fight antibiotic resistance and aid your own recovery:

  • Take them as directed
  • Complete the full treatment course, even if you are feeling better
  • Never share antibiotics with others
  • Never use leftover prescriptions

To find out more about antibiotics, please visit: www.nhs.uk/antibiotics, or visit antibioticguardian.com if you would like to join the fight against antibiotic resistance by becoming an Antibiotic Guardian.

For more information on staying well this winter, please visit: www.nhs.uk/staywell.