Antibiotic resistance is one of the most serious public health problems in the United States and threatens to return us to a time when simple infections were often fatal. The Centers for Disease Control works to improve antibiotic prescribing and use in human health care, and educate patients about the importance of appropriate use. When we optimize how we use and prescribe these drugs, we protect patients from harm and combat antibiotic resistance.
Antibiotics do save lives. When a patient needs them, the benefits outweigh the risks of side effects or antibiotic resistance. But, antibiotics aren’t always the answer.
"Most infections don't require antibiotics," said Dr. Zach Egger, D.O., Phelps Medical Group. "Antibiotic resistance happens when bacteria and viruses change in response to the use of these medications so the drug can no longer work and do its job."
Everyone can help improve antibiotic prescribing or use by being aware of the facts.
- Antibiotics do not work on viruses, such as colds and flu, or runny noses, even if the mucus is thick, yellow or green. They are only needed for treating certain infections caused by bacteria. Antibiotics also won’t help some common bacterial infections including most cases of bronchitis, many sinus infections, and some ear infections.
- An antibiotic will not make you feel better if you have a virus. Respiratory viruses usually go away in a week or two without treatment. Ask your healthcare professional about the best way to feel better while your body fights off the virus.
- Taking antibiotics creates resistant bacteria. Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria develop the ability to defeat the drugs designed to kill them.
- If you need antibiotics, take them exactly as prescribed. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions, or if you develop any side effects, which include dizziness, nausea or yeast infection. More serious side effects can include diarrhea, since that could be a C. difficile infection which needs to be treated right away.
Dr. Egger adds that while antibiotics are needed for treating common bacterial infections such as UTIs, strep throat, and bacterial pneumonia, he recommends implementing good, preventative practices to help with viral infections such as cleaning your hands, covering your cough, staying home and resting when sick, and getting recommended vaccines.
And remember to safely dispose of any unused medicines.
Our healthcare providers at Phelps Medical Group can help you decide the best treatment for you when you're sick. To schedule an appointment or if you have questions, give us a call at 308.995.6111.