European Antibiotic Awareness Day - 18 November
Antibiotic resistance – where are we now?
Antibiotic resistance is the ability of bacteria to resist the action of an antibiotic. Antibiotic resistance severely limits the number of antibiotics available for the treatment of a number of diseases.
Before the discovery of antibiotics, thousands of people died from bacterial diseases, such as pneumonia or infection following surgery. Since antibiotics have been discovered and used, more and more bacteria, which were originally susceptible, have become resistant and developed numerous different means of fighting against antibiotics. Because resistance is increasing and few new antibiotics have been discovered and marketed in recent years, antibiotic resistance is now a major public health threat.
Without antibiotics, we could return to the “pre-antibiotic era”, when organ transplants, cancer chemotherapy, intensive care and other medical procedures would no longer be possible. Bacterial diseases would spread and could no longer be treated, causing death.
Only 70 years after the introduction of antibiotics, we are facing the possibility of a future without effective drugs to treat bacterial infections.
Everybody can contribute to keep antibiotics working by:
- Using antibiotics only against bacterial infections, and not infections caused by viruses such as common colds or flu.
- Always seeking a doctor’s advice before taking antibiotics.
- Once the doctor has confirmed that antibiotics are necessary, taking them in a responsible manner, following the doctor’s advice in terms of dosage and duration of time.
- Avoiding self-medication with antibiotics. Self-medication is when you use leftover antibiotics from previous treatments, or get antibiotics at the pharmacy without a prescription.
- Not sharing left-over antibiotics with other people.
- Not keeping leftover antibiotic treatments. If you received more antibiotic doses (e.g. tablets, gel caps) than you were prescribed, ask your pharmacists about how to dispose the remaining doses.
- Learning how you can take care of yourself without antibiotics, if they are not necessary.
- For winter-related illnesses, drinking plenty of fluids and getting some rest to help improve your symptoms.
For more information, please visit https://antibiotic.ecdc.europa.eu/en