Antibiotics save lives and are critical tools for treating a number of common and more serious bacterial infections, but improper use of these medications can lead to drug resistance that can be life-threatening. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calls resistance to antibiotics one of the most urgent threats to public health.
U.S. Antibiotics Awareness Week, which runs from Nov. 18 to 24, is an opportunity to learn about good antibiotic prescribing practices and use. Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria develop the ability to defeat the drugs designed to kill them. Each year in the United States, at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, and at least 23,000 people die as a direct result, according to the CDC. Many more die of complications from antibiotic-resistant infections.
“Antibiotics are an essential part of combatting a number of common infections, including pneumonia and sepsis,” said Indiana State Health Commissioner Kris Box, M.D., FACOG. “It’s equally important to ensure that they are used properly so these drugs will continue to be effective.”
The CDC says at least 30 percent of the antibiotics in outpatient settings nationwide are prescribed unnecessarily. Improving the way healthcare professionals prescribe antibiotics, and the way patients use antibiotics, will help keep Hoosiers healthy, prevent fight antibiotic resistance, and ensure that these lifesaving medications will be available for future generations.
The best ways to help prevent the spread of antibiotic resistance are to:
- Talk to your healthcare provider about measures to relieve symptoms without using antibiotics.
- Take prescribed antibiotics exactly as directed by your healthcare provider.
- Never pressure your healthcare provider for an antibiotic prescription.
- Never save antibiotics for the next time you’re sick.
- Remember that antibiotics won’t make you feel better if you have a virus.
- Stay healthy and keep others healthy by cleaning hands, covering coughs, staying home when you are sick and getting recommended vaccines.
- This is the week to be antibiotics aware for year-round smart use and best care. Visit www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use to learn more about antibiotic prescribing and use.